Robert Maluso: We’re trying to come up with some great healthy concepts that educate with food and also draw customers to naturally make better, healthier choices. In the past everything was so focused on the number of calories and fat that you ended up compromising the quality of your meal. So we came up with our To The Max program, which allows the customer to walk up to the station and be confident that no matter the food choices they make, their meal will be 550 calories or less. We developed several different concepts to offer as much variety as possible. We have Greenlight (composed salads), Oodles (noodle bowls), Mexican Bowls, Seasons To The Max (salad bar with make-your-own instructions), Fusion Steamers and Summer Rolls. We’re working on an Italian concept.
We’re mirroring on-trend, authentic ethnic stations in the retail world. For example, if a customer walks up to Oodles, he can choose his broth, noodle, protein and vegetables and it will never be more than 550 calories.
Behind the scenes the station is split into zones for prep. For example, at the salad station the greens are one zone, then you have the protein, vegetables and dressing that each have their own zone. Each one of those zones has a measuring device. So once that container is full, that is it for the item in that zone. Even if the customer chooses the highest calorie items from each of these zones, the meal will still only be 550 calories.
Christine H. Wellington: We had close to 40% of our customers asking for healthy food. We have a made-to-order station where we run the concept for two days at a time. One of the biggest challenges is making sure the staff is properly trained on measuring things out. We had to get the staff to realize that we are telling the customers this is going to 550 calories so we have to measure these things out properly. It’s a fair amount of prep because of all the different concepts. That’s why we run it for two days so we are careful with what we are producing. The program always scores highly.