Roushan Christofellis of Gilbert

Roushan Christofellis of Gilbert used to be a teacher but then started her first Salad and Go drive-thru in 2013. She is closing in on having 40 eateries up and running this year.

Ahwatukee has lost a Boston Market but it’s gaining an outlet for one of the fastest growing food concepts in the state.

Salad and Go will be opening on the site of the old Boston Market at 48th Street and Ray Road sometime this summer.

It’s not clear why the market’s Ahwatukee site closed, but the McDonald’s-owned chain has been trying to reinvent itself since July 2019, when it closed 45 outlets nationwide – roughly 10 percent of its 454 restaurants – for underperformance.

At the time,  then-CEO Frances Allen said the closures resulted from “continuously analyzing our geographic footprint and real estate portfolio to assess the ongoing viability of locations.”

Allen has since jumped to Checkers and Rally’s.

Salad and Go is a privately owned drive-thru restaurant chain that was started in Gilbert in 2013 by Roushan Christofellis, a former teacher who thought the world might be ready for a drive-thru that served fresh and health alternatives to greasy fast food.

She was right.

By the time the Ahwatukee location opens along with about five others, there will be at least 36 in Arizona – close to Christofellis’ 2017 expectation that she would have 40 locations in five years.

“We want people to know, when they’re looking for a quick, healthy, great-tasting meal on-the-go, that they have an alternative,” she said at the time. “We really believe that we can’t change the health of America with one location.” 

Salad and Go serves both breakfast and lunch, with the former being five different burrito options. It also serves several protein extras, such as tofu, chicken and shrimp. 

“We felt like we’re not really providing a true, alternative drive-thru fast food if we’re missing that huge part,” Christofellis said when she added breakfast to her lineup.

Christofellis in various interviews over the years said she was inspired not only after hearing people complain about how hard it was to find healthy food to eat when they’re in a hurry but also by the health issues her parents and in-laws struggled with – a “combination of genetics and bad diet,” she said.

She chose salads, then limited the number of ingredients so menu items could be prepared quickly and limited the size of her outlets to under 700 square feet. Both strategies also kept costs down and enabled her to pay the higher costs that come with healthy food.

On her company website, she also noted that she and her husband “noticed you could get food on-the-go that was cheap and convenient, but it wasn’t good for you; and you could get good-for-you food at a sit-down restaurant or even some fast-casual places, but it wasn’t cheap or convenient.”

So, with the help of Executive Chef Daniel Patino, they said, they “reengineered the restaurant model to create a micro-footprint and focused menu that would help balance their high food costs.”

“Chef designed a flavor-forward, protein-rich menu that would appeal to carnivores and vegans alike, and loaded with items that could easily be ordered gluten-free, dairy-free, or further customized,” they said.

“I always knew I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Christofellis says on her company website.

“What has surprised me the most is how much my teaching experience has transferred over. Creating systems where individuals can know the procedures and expectations to be successful, while being in an environment where they feel important, appreciated and can thrive.”

“We started Salad and Go to solve a problem. What I didn’t realize is how much the community would let us in on their struggle and share with us how Salad and Go has provided a solution in their lives,” she says. 

“I didn’t expect to have people reach through the drive-thru window, touch my arm and say, ‘I just want you to know you saved my life.’ You truly can’t work a shift without someone coming through the drive-thru and expressing how excited they are to have this in their neighborhood.

“From those battling cancer and needing more organic fruits and veggies in their diets, to the person who just learned of food allergies and now needs to learn a completely new way of eating, to the parent looking for a healthier option for themselves and their kids. We believe in removing the barriers to eating great tasting, good-for-you food.”

(1) comment

milesssmith

Thanks for sharing the article, and more importantly, your personal experienceMindfully using our emotions as data about our inner state and knowing when it’s better to de-escalate by taking a time out are great tools. Appreciate you reading and sharing your story, since I can certainly relate and I think others can too

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