Eco-entrepreneurship Opportunity: Salad Restaurant

What do you get for takeout when you are on the run and want something healthy? Tougher question than it might first appear. Burrito? Maybe. They tend to be huge, have lots of calories, and plenty of ingredients you might not use in meals you prepare for yourself. Burger? Riiiiight…..

You may not think of a salad as “quick” or portable, but a growing number of eco-friendly eating establishments are cashing in on the trend of providing healthier fast food that is unprocessed, light, low-carbon (and low carb, for those few people still clinging onto that silly fad), can usually be sourced locally, and provides a fairly good margin for entrepreneurs, as well. Pluto’s (pictured at left), a San Francisco based chain that serves large salads, much of it organic, has expanded solidly throughout the Bay Area in recent years.

It’s a pseudo deli style restaurant serving big, delicious salads as a main dish.  Customers choose the ingredients they want in their salads, and employees mix the pre-prepared ingredients (organic chopped veggies, dressing, nuts, seeds, diced and grilled tofu or free range chicken, etc.) in a large mixing bowl before serving it on a plate or in an eco-friendly take-out container.  These types of meals are healthy and tend to have lower carbon footprints, since they are mostly veggies and have small or no meat portions.  An alternative business model would be to allow customers to create their own salads from your prepared ingredients and pay by weight or by the size of plate.

So if you enjoy serving people, have a passion for healthy, sustainably sourced food, and know that there are a lot of health-conscious consumers in your area, what are you waiting for?

Not quite right for you? That’s ok, check out the rest of our “Start a Green Business” Series on!




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Photo courtesy of frankfarm on Flickr Creative Commons

Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.