If the number of failed New Year’s resolutions are any indication, eating healthy in a fast-paced world still isn’t all that easy.
Roushan Christofellis, a 30-year-old former teacher from Gilbert, is planning to change that — by tossing aside the greasy fast food and tossing up fresher, healthier alternatives.
Christofellis’ new drive-thru restaurant, Salad and Go, opened late last month.
Christofellis admits part of why she left teaching to start the business — located on the east side of Gilbert Road, just south of Guadalupe Road — came from hearing how people would have a hard time finding healthy food to eat when they’re in a hurry.
But, more importantly to her, she got the diea because of what was happening with her family.
Her parents — and her husband’s parents — have suffered a number of illnesses, ranging from heart attacks to osteoporosis, in the last five years. Her husband’s uncle also died from a heart attack.
Watching their parents deal with health problems made Christofellis and her husband aware of what they were eating and their own health.
“Neither set of our parents ever struggled through obesity or anything like that. It was a combination of genetics and bad diet,” Christofellis said.
Christofellis said she and her husband, already hitting some of the wrong dietary notes themselves, decided to work at preventing a similar fate to that of their parents.
From there, she and her husband started to talk about what if there was a alternative healthy choice to fast-food restaurants. It was then that brand mission of Salad and Go was born.
That mission: make healthy food both convenient and affordable.
“If we can do this and we can prove it works and others will follow suit,” Christofellis said. “We can make America a more healthy place.”
One of the first problems encountered was the rather high cost of healthier, fresher food.
Christofellis notes that healthy food, by its nature, is rather expensive. Another issue was that it’s difficult to get people to eat fruits and vegetables.
Talking to nutritionists, Christofellis arrived to the conclusion that choosing salads as the food they would sell could tackle both problems.
Also by limiting the number of ingredients, they can prepare and serve food fast. It also helps them focus on making one food great, she said, while not spending a lot on certain typical equipment — like deep fat fryers — a big staff, or other operating costs.
Christofellis also elected to build small — 656 square feet in total — and use the extra money to fund the higher food costs.
Cristofellis notes the higher expense of organic food, so they must find ways to take the hit so their customers can enjoy affordable food.
With the help of angel investors — individuals who put up their own money to aid business startups — Christofellis left her job of seven years and began preparing to open Salad and Go in Gilbert.
She said she also has funding to open five more locations — all planned for Gilbert — and hopes that in five years, there will be as many as 40 locations throughout the state.
Christofellis said she chose Gilbert because of its small-town feel, and that she was confident that the idea would be appreciated by its residents.
Apart from talking to experts in business and other fast-food owners, the Gilbert Small Business Alliance also helped Christofellis by pointing her in the right path in order to start her restaurant.
The menu for the restaurant includes salads such as spinach & smoked bacon, Asian style, classic Caesar, seasonal mix and caprese.
Each large portion costs $5.50, while natural free-range and garden plant-based chicken, flank steak or garlic prawns can be added to a salad for an additional fee.
A children’s menu includes stuffed pinwheels, buttter lettuce salad, peanut butter and jelly and turkey and cheese wrap, each for $3.99. It will also come with a side of carrots and ranch or apples and peanut butter and a drink choice of organic low fat milk, organic apple juice or chocolate milk.
Christofellis said she enlisted nutritionists to help put the menu together while a nutrional company put together the nutritional facts of the food.
Salad and Go officially opened Feb. 28.
What: Salad and Go drive-thru, fast-food salad eatery
When: Daily, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: 743 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert