Industry News | September 15, 2011

Saladworks Turns 25, Reflects on Success

It started as a simple idea: provide fresh, healthy, made-to-order, entrée-sized salads as an alternative food offering for customers on the go.

Saladworks Chairman and CEO John Scardapane developed the concept while working as a chef at a southern New Jersey country club. He took the idea to the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey and was told “a salad-only store would never survive.” The mall later agreed to the store, but with the provision he added sandwiches to the menu. After one month, the salads were selling so well, the sandwiches were dropped from the menu. A year later, Scardapane’s shop was the highest-grossing tenant in the food court, ahead of national burger and pizza chains.

Today, that small store in a mall food court has evolved into Saladworks, the nation’s largest fresh-salad concept.

“Our main goal was, and still is today, to provide a meal that is healthy, quickly accessible, and delicious,” says Scardapane.  “I think we’ve achieved and exceeded this, offering sizable salads, sandwiches and wraps with ingredients that are chopped fresh daily.”

In 2008, Scardapane took on a partner, Vernon Hill. Hill’s experience taking Commerce Bankcorp from a single location to hundreds has proven beneficial to the Saladworks brand.

With about 100 locations in 12 states, Saladworks grossed $65 million in system-wide sales in 2010. Currently, the franchise has 89 stores in various stages of development. Keeping in line with its growth, the company has a projection of 500 stores by 2016.

“John created America’s best salads,” Hill says. “Now it’s time to take that from good to great, making Saladworks the nation’s greatest restaurant chain.”

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary, Saladworks launched three promotions through its Facebook page. Fans can take quizzes and answer riddles to be entered to win multiple prizes, including a $100 gift certificate. They can also download an exclusive playlist.

 “Twenty-five years seems like a day when you have a passion for what you do,” Scardapane says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else, my exit strategy is death.”