Bring up healthy, active lifestyles in the limited-service restaurant industry today and folks will nod understandably. After all, it’s 2016; the push for more nutritious menu items is old news by now, and consumer tastes have made it easier than ever to plate fresher, healthier, more flavorful foods.

But the fight to put health and nutrition at the forefront of U.S. consumers’ lives never ends; obesity is as big a problem as ever, and the restaurant industry is in a unique position to provide tools and resources to people so they can take care of themselves and their families.

To encourage operators to go the extra mile in promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, Food News Media, publisher of QSR and FSR magazines, launched the HALO Awards in 2014, shining the spotlight on restaurant companies that rise above the rest in providing health programs that are meaningful, creative, and efficient. In this year’s second-ever HALO Awards, we once again opened the nomination process to independent and chain restaurants, searching for those companies that make meaningful contributions to a healthy, active lifestyle. The winners were recognized at a special awards presentation held in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on May 22.

Learn more about the 2016 winners below, and start thinking about ways in which your company can improve its own healthy menu offerings and lifestyle promotions. Who knows? Maybe you’ll take home a HALO Award next year.


Quick Service


Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut’s holistic health program spans both its menu and its system-wide staff. The nation’s largest pizza chain has improved the nutrition of its menu by removing artificial colors and flavors in its pizza, as well as by serving lower-calorie Skinny Slice pizzas, Udi’s Gluten-Free Pizza, 100 percent real cheese, natural Italian sausage, and fresh toppings. But Pizza Hut takes its health initiatives a step further by investing in the well-being of employees at its 6,300-plus U.S. restaurants. The company provides a range of wellness programs to employees, including membership discounts at gyms, while also offering assistant managers and above annual health screenings, a personalized weight-management tool, and access to the Virgin Pulse program, which incentivizes employees who track healthy behaviors and complete wellness challenges. Read more about Pizza Hut’s efforts here.



Chick-fil-A takes the trophy with its new superfood side, a healthy salad that is offered as an alternative to fries and that replaces a coleslaw that had been on the menu for decades. Developed in collaboration with James Beard–nominated chef Ford Fry, the superfood side features a blend of kale, broccolini, roasted nuts, and maple vinaigrette dressing. Following a test last year, the superfood side joined the national Chick-fil-A menu in January. Read more about the superfood side here.



SweetFrog invests in its customers’ health through promotional materials that encourage an active lifestyle. It accomplishes this through sports tip videos posted on its Instagram and Facebook accounts, and through two mascots, Scoop and Cookie, who attend events such as school field days. Read more about the company’s initiatives here.



In 2015, the 30-plus-unit PizzaRev launched its “PizzaResolution” campaign, which included an online nutrition calculator and social media posts that teach customers how to consciously craft their pizzas. Read more about the campaign here.



Wendy’s became the first major quick-service chain to debut a Black Bean Burger, which it rolled out to test markets earlier this year. Read more about the Black Bean Burger here.


Full Service


Jonathan’s Grille

Jonathan’s Grille in Nashville, Tennessee, crashes through fried and calorie-laden stereotypes. The five-unit concept has 14 salads available, and uses chicken that is 100 percent free of antibiotics, steroids, and hormones.


The Argonaut

The Argonaut in Washington, D.C, an independent restaurant owned by Scott Magnuson and his wife, Shaaren Pine, created a Restaurant Recovery program that helps industry employees cope with substance abuse. The restaurant also compensates its staff for gym visits, among other healthy initiatives.



Noodlecat, from chef Jonathon Sawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, hosts the monthly Noodle Kids, in which children learn about healthy eating by building their own noodle bowl.


Table 301 Restaurant Group

Table 301 owner Carl Sobocinski agreed to pay the entry fee for any employee wishing to run the Spinx Run Fest. More than 60 people related to the company showed up.

Consumer Trends, Marketing & Promotions, Special Reports, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, PizzaRev, sweetFrog, Wendy's