If you’ve never heard of Crisp & Green before, it’s probably because you don’t live in Minnesota. The fast casual’s menu focuses on scratch-made salads and customizable grain bowls, with ingredients that shift with the season. Up in the land of 10,000 lakes, the chain of health-focused eateries have been amassing an impressive fan base since 2016. Now they’re ready to expand their footprint into several markets across the US.
“It’s a unique time to be nationally franchising a brand while so many restaurants have struggled to remain open,” says Crisp & Green founder and CEO Steele Smiley, who today announces the signing of a lease in Dallas, Texas. “[We’ve] been successful to date because our food exceeds expectations, we are a digitally native brand and our wellness classes connect with community members across the board.”
While seemingly every business out there speaks of ‘pivoting’, Crisp & Clean hardly had to shift any practices to embrace Covid-related safety protocols. The seven locations it already operates lean heavily into online ordering by way of a propriety app. So most of its costumers were long-accustomed to a touch-less dining experience, where all items are accurately rendered in the virtual space.
The brand also leveraged the fact that its target audience is one that values being part of a broader culture of healthy living. And so repeat customers are rewarded with what they label ‘holistic programming’. Here they can connect virtually with a like-minded community as well as enjoy complimentary fitness classes; yoga, bootcamps—all accessed through the app. It’s all added up to a recipe for swift success. The company is overseeing the development of 20 new locations, including brick-and-mortars in South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa in addition to the standalone in Dallas. This will effectively quadruple its presence by 2021.
If you see one crop up in your neighborhood you can expect signature items with pun-fueled names, such as the Thai and Stop Me—a Thai-inspired salad with peanut dressing, cilantro and mint piled atop arugula and citrus shrimp. The Chef Curry is a vegetarian bowl of roasted yams and cauliflower assembled under a drizzle of ginger-curry vinaigrette. Calorie counts are listed alongside everything on the menu. And gluten-free is default here. You’ll only see an asterisk for the 1-2 ingredients which don’t fit the bill. They also promise macronutrient information in the near future.
“We have been very pleased with the success we’ve experienced in Minnesota and are thrilled that communities have embraced and supported us so quickly.” adds Smiley. “We are eager to expand into other parts of the country to bring additional communities nutritious, great-tasting food in our unique welcoming environment.”
It’s hard to overstate just how catastrophic the pandemic has been for the food and beverage industry as a whole. There is a hard road ahead. And the landscape will look vastly different on the other side. Many Americans will be forced to focus on fare that is the most convenient—often at the expense of nutritional value. Foods that check both boxes are becoming increasingly elusive. But Crisp & Green is offering some measure of hope that you can have your fast casual squash bowl and eat it, too.