National built-to-order salad kitchen, Salata, is celebrating its 15th anniversary on October 15. As a thank you to guests, Tastemaker loyalty program members will receive 15 extra points on their first purchase made October 12-16. Team members are also volunteering at Hope Farms on October 15, an urban farm run by Recipe for Success Foundation, where the foundation is implementing award-winning programs to teach, inspire and empower healthy eating and address food deserts. Salata will be volunteering alongside their franchisees and with the support of their vendor partners, including Kraft Heinz, to build a hoop house at the farm and further efforts to support food education.
“Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had a record year,” said Michelle Bythewood, president of Salata. “Along with the rest of the industry, Salata has been navigating the unprecedented impacts, but has stayed true to our strong mission and vision to deliver fresh, flavorful and fully customizable options to our guests. We are excited to celebrate our 15th anniversary by giving back to our community, recognizing the hard work and ingenuity of our team—truly our secret ingredient—and thanking our loyal guests.”
This year, Salata opened seven new locations and will open its 88th location later this month in El Paso—the first location in the West Texas market. In 2019, Salata completed a rebrand, redesigned its stores and launched its tech suite and Tastemaker loyalty program. Salata built on this momentum and new loyalty audience in 2020, driving awareness of its new native delivery offering through a free delivery week, in partnership with DoorDash. Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, Salata experienced a 2 percent increase in same store sales year-over-year after the rebrand as well as 10 percent lift in new website users.
In March, as a result of COVID-19, the brand powered through an 80% drop in sales by focusing on safety, supporting its franchisees and communicating constantly with guests. Salata doubled down on off-premise dining by promoting its new delivery options with another free delivery week and lower delivery fees. Salata onboarded 85 percent of their restaurants to third-party marketplaces to offer digital orders through Olo Rails and developed new menu items to meet its guests’ needs including set recipe salads and wraps, meal kits, produce kits and the first new dressing in five years. Off-premise sales now account for 81 percent of the business, including digital, marketplace and to-go orders.
Salata’s mobile app launched in the midst of the pandemic to seamlessly integrate with the Tastemaker loyalty program and provide another easy way to order online. The new app contributed to record breaking online sales on the last day of the launch offer, despite the fact that many stores were still closed due to the pandemic. Since the launch of the mobile app, it has been downloaded more than 55,000 times and Salata has seen a 24.86% increase in loyalty and eClub members. During this time, the company also brought on new director of IT Pete Kaufman to further develop the technology suite implemented in 2019 and executive chef Josh Graber, who was responsible for Salata’s highly popular new Jalapeno Avocado Dressing, to push the envelope with new product innovations moving into 2021.
By this fall, the majority of Salata’s open locations were on the path to rebound at 90% of year-over-year sales, with several experiencing growth. The brand plans to continue its remodel program to update existing stores with the refreshed look and an optimized experience for online ordering. Salata plans to further develop its off-premise dining through building third-party marketplace orders from 8 to 15 percent on Olo Rails and doubling the number of native delivery dispatches.
Since launching with Olo Rails in March 2020, Salata has earned $1.4 million in marketplace sales. Moving into 2021, Salata anticipates strategically shifting their dining rooms to be smaller, kitchen prep areas to become bigger with larger coolers and retrofitting some locations with walk up or drive-through windows to accommodate higher volumes of online orders. It plans to enter at least four new markets including Charlotte, North Carolina and St. Simon, Georgia in the coming year and is actively accepting new franchisees.