As Chicagoans struggle two weeks into 2019 with their resolutions to eat more vegetables, salad chain Just Salad has announced plans to open four new area locations by the end of the year. The New York-based company in 2015 opened its first Chicago location, a restaurant in the Loop, and has since opened three more. According to a news release, the first of the four new locations should open in early 2019 off the Magnificent Mile and inside the Illinois Center at 233 N. Michigan Avenue.
Just Salad has a pair of Loop locations plus restaurants in River North and West Loop. The founders started the company in 2006. They’ve built an energetic fanbase with 34 locations in N.Y., Philadelphia, Chicago, New Jersey, Hong Kong, and Dubai. The menu features seasonal salads that could be served as wraps. The chain also serves smoothies, grain bowls, and soups.
Chicago has plenty of fast-casual chains which sell themselves as a healthier alternative to fast-food burgers and similar greasy fare. The competition includes Protein Bar and Sweetgreen. As the Tribune pointed out, some similar brands have struggled. Honeygrow, a Philadelphia-based salad/stir-fry chain, closed its Chicago locations in November. There’s also the poke craze that seems to have snarled, for a variety of reasons.
The company’s ownership hasn’t revealed the locations of its other three upcoming Just Salads. The Michigan Avenue location will take up about 1,250 square feet and have free WiFi. Just Salad is also touting its plan to hire 100 new employees and the expansion of its sustainability program. The chain charges $1 for a reusable bowl. The incentive is customers get free toppings when they bring their bowls in and the company claims the program’s responsible for an annual saving of 75,000 pounds of plastic.