SmartBlog on Restaurants editor Megan Conniff interviewed Casie Caldwell, founder, president and CEO of Greenz Restaurants. Caldwell is responsible for the direction of the Greenz concept, including building the Greenz brand and handling all marketing initiatives, as well as oversight of all operations including cost and quality controls. Casie has more than 15 years’ experience in the areas of marketing, advertising, and interactive communications, with an emphasis on consumer marketing.
What sets Greenz Salads apart from other salad concepts?
We are the only salad concept with a truly unique twist to salad. We see salad as an art form – we don’t “toss” our salads, we sculpt them. Our key differentiator is the inventive ingredients, unique presentation and the remarkable “fine dining” service we offer in a fast-casual setting. When it comes to service, we teach our managers and staff to deliver a fine dining feel even though it’s a fast-casual environment. At Greenz, our philosophy is once you sit down, you should never have to get up again. If someone drops their fork, someone’s there immediately to get them a new one. One of Greenz staff members, Ryan, was recently written up in the Dallas Observer for refilling a woman’s tea glass three times in one visit. She wrote how not only was she not expecting him to wait on her, but, “who refills your tea three times anywhere these days?!”
More restaurants are starting to cater to special diets. Obviously, Greenz offers plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian (or vegan) options. What options does Greenz offer for those with food allergies or intolerances?
“Gluten-free” is the menu guide targeting gluten intolerance. We have also developed wellness guides, such as our Heart Healthy menu or our point-based diet plans menu, designed to help people eat better. The nice thing is everything is made to order, right when you order it, so if you’re allergic to something it’s easy to remove.
How does the chain utilize social media?
We are fanatics. We primarily use Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to respond and interact with customers’ wants and needs. My background is in interactive advertising and marketing so I turn to mostly online methods of getting the word out to bring customers in the door. My favorite social media story is the recent story of Joe. We saw Joe’s tweet about one of our competitor’s delivery service. We responded to Joe that Greenz delivered, too. Joe had never been to Greenz, but quickly threw down a challenge for whichever of the stores would name a salad “The Joe” he’d come and bring all his friends to the store. Thanks to the “real-time” response available with social media — we responded immediately. We renamed our Southwestern Shrimp salad “The Joe” for the day, sent the message out to all his followers on Twitter and Facebook, and spent the next day welcoming Joe, his friends, and hundreds more.
Now that Greenz has been on the map for a while, what advice would you offer to entrepreneurs looking to open a new concept?
Take the time to develop the processes and the operational work flows to make your concept profitable. I’ve seen far too many operators who fail because they didn’t develop the tools necessary to make the concept successful.
Greenz Salads has partnered with Beautiful Brands. What advice would you offer to entrepreneurs looking to franchise, either with BBI or in general?
Just because you have a cool idea doesn’t mean it’s franchisable. The key is to do the analysis to make sure your franchisees will still be happy when you take your royalties off the bottom line. It has to work for everyone involved, not just the franchisor. I would also say to start small and don’t buy into the smoke and mirrors of launching several hundred stores in your first year. That’s simply not a reality in most cases. Grow, but grow smart.