IMAGE VIA @TENDERGREENS | INSTAGRAM
Founded over a decade ago in sunny California, Tender Greens is one of the OGs of healthy fast casual. Chef-driven daily specials and locally sourced ingredients are just a few of the cornerstones that have established this spot as a go-to for a more “fine casual” option — imagine honeygrow’s hustle with date-worthy dishes.
However, only a few years ago, if you lived anywhere but the Golden State, you would have probably never experienced the joy of a Tender Greens Backyard Steak Plate. Luckily, with a bold expansion plan aiming to double their locations, from 28 to 56, over the next two years, the new Tender Greens CEO hopes to change that. And yes, it means more Boston locations.
Though fast casual accounts for less than 8% of the restaurant market, its growth is undeniable. And Denyelle Bruno, Tender Greens CEO and president (who’s bringing quite the pedigree, having worked with some of our faves like Apple, Peet’s, and Drybar), wants to harness that growth with an aggressive plan to take Tender Greens eastward. With financial backing from fine dining restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and a recent rebranding courtesy of the same team behind Shake Shack’s imagery, she is poised to spread the Tender Greens goodness nationwide.
If you’ve yet to experience a trip to Tender Greens in Chestnut Hill or Copley Place, you’re in for a treat. Each location is run by its own executive chef, making every menu—though grounded in the same foundation‚ just a little unique. Think “slow food, done fast.”
Instead of a menu centered entirely on salads, you can get platters with proteins like roasted fish and bone-in pork chops, or falafel, farro, and quinoa for our vegans. Responsibly-sourced menus mean you might find soft-shell crab in SF or Luke’s Lobster tail in Boston, but an experience of the utmost quality remains standard.
Scaling up a franchise is never easy, but the Tender Greens practice of responsible sourcing could present a very specific challenge — up to this point, most of their establishments in California are close to year-round produce farms with mild weather. They’ll have to get creative when it comes to sourcing produce, which might increase the regional diversity of offerings even further. But if it means more healthy post-workout meals that aren’t just salad bowls, we’re on board.
Tender Greens recently announced they've signed a lease at the Arsenal Yards development in Watertown. Should everything go according to their plan, expect this late-2019 opening to be one of many along the East Coast and beyond.
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