The salad bar is hardly a new concept. Years ago, popular American food brand Wendy’s opened in a mall and brought with them their all-you-can-eat salad bar. They fizzled and left Cebu after a few years, leaving a trail of tattered lettuce behind.
It was a different time, of course. Healthy eating was an option, something to tick off on a preferences card, hardly the norm, and therefore inaccessible to many.
It was a luxury to eat healthy when fastfood was on the rise, and everything was unlimited sugar and unlimited carbohydrates and unlimited fat.
Two decades after, the shift towards a more holistic approach to healthy living has made healthy eating a way of life and not just an available option.
In fact, as SaladStop! proves, also a viable business.
“Ninety percent of what we serve here is sourced locally,” reveals Katherine Desbaillets-Braha, the daughter of founder Daniel and sister to co-founder Adrien.
“In fact the only thing we fly in is the spinach, because we couldn’t find the one we wanted grown here in Cebu. Perhaps soon, that will change.”
There is also a shift to sustainability, and the ethical business acumen that has big businesses supporting homegrown ones, in this case the farmers around Cebu who supply the components of their 12 signature salads and a bulk of the 60 fresh toppings that are — finally — flying off the counters into hefty salad bowls.
The heft, in fact, might be another factor to consider when one contemplates on why the brand seems to work well with the Filipino in general (judging on their nine other locations in the country), and the Cebuano in particular (the branch in Ayala Center’s Garden Level is the first outside Manila).
SaladStop!’s signature Oh Crab Lah, their popular ode to their Singaporean roots (they began in the Lion City in 2009) comes piled high with romaine lettuce, crab sticks, grated eggs, vermicelli noodles, cherry tomatoes, red onions, croutons, and the unmistakable spice of Singapore Chili Crab.
“We’re not just a restaurant, we’re a movement,” says Katherine, herself a lithe figure that cuts across the crowd like a tall, Teutonic blonde knife. “In fact, we’re partnering with local fitness trainors to customize our menu for their clients.”
Although this hasn’t been implemented in Cebu, the team is keenly studying the possibilities.
Unya nabusog ka ato? Yes, I find their servings more than adequate. If you can get past the plebeian concept of habhab and
be open to the fact that a full stomach is more a state of mind for most people.
Until that shift finally happens, though, these small triumphant steps are well worth the celebration. And here’s raising a glass of their green smoothies to that! Was that kale in my drink?
(SaladStop! Is located at Level 4 Garden Area of Ayala Center Cebu. Visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SaladStopPH
or follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @saladstopph for promos and product updates)