BOOM: Green is Good as MULO Salad Brands Abound

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Salads and salad brands are no longer a side dish. At the same time as multi-location (MULO) sweets and snack brands emerge and proliferate, greens-based companies are opening and scaling.

Among the places consumers can find their favorite salad fixings are:

  • Saladworks: One of the first entrants to the market (founded in 1986), the franchise now has about 130 locations and was considered an industry disruptor when it expanded into Walmart stores via ghost kitchens. They continue to innovate by adding menu items, food trucks, and presence at airports and college campuses.
  • Sweetgreen: In addition to its 200+ brick-and-mortar stores, the brand has what they call “outposts” in office and apartment buildings, hospitals, and other locations. Couriers deliver pre-ordered salads from the outposts, which currently number about 550.
  • Salad and Go: The brand was founded in 2013 and already has about 103 locations serving Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and Oklahoma. They target to add about 30 stores by the end of this year. Now run by a former Wingstop executive, Salad and Go drops their stores into highly-trafficked parking areas and needs as little as 12-15K square feet (including the drive-up and parking areas).
  • Mad Greens: One of the older MULO salad brands, Mad Greens was founded in 2004 and has locations in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. They were acquired by the AC Restaurant Group (founded by Coors) in 2013 as its first restaurant investment. They have since merged with the Snappy Salads brand, and together “The Salad Collective” has close to 50 locations.
  • CRISP & GREEN:  This franchised brand plans to open 50 new locations this year. Part of the STEELE BRANDS group, CRISP & GREEN will expand from its Minnesota roots to 15 new states.
  • Chopt: Another OG of the salad arena, the brand opened its first store in 2001 in Manhattan. One of its goals is to bring healthy eating to the masses, and they partner with New York City public schools.  The company ahs more than 70 locations throughout New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

These are among the largest and oldest MULO salad brands, but new entrants to the market are appearing, including regional players. In addition, sandwich brands and other fast-casual brands are adding salads to their menus to meet the needs of today’s health-conscious consumers.

In fact, the average American eats four salads a week, and preferences for “add-ins” vary widely across demographics, according to one study.

Although burgers, shakes, and fried chicken will all remain a part of the fast food and drive-through landscape, today’s consumers are as likely to look for “salad near me” these days. Smart MULO brands will continue to chop and toss their way to profitability!




Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.