Lonely Planet Writer

Is Arizona the home to America’s first drive-thru salad bar?

Fast food is most often associated with greasy burgers and fries served with a side of regret, but not so with Salad and Go, the healthy drive-thru restaurant chain based in Arizona, that may well be the first of its kind.

Is this America's first drive-thru salad bar?
Is this America’s first drive-thru salad bar? Image by Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

“We have yet to find anyone doing what we’re doing, and we have looked” founder Roushan Christofellis tells Lonely Planet. “We definitely feel like we’re revolutionising the drive-thru industry.” The idea for Salad and Go was born out of a desire to eat healthier foods, but a lack of quick, easy options at the end of a busy day. I felt this way even before having a child, but now with a two year old, I have an even more profound love for my own company,” laughs Christofellis. “I don’t have to unload her out of the car, and carry her across a hot Arizona parking lot. Instead I can keep the AC going and cruise through [the drive-thru.] It’s the only convenient thing that I feel good about eating.”

Arizona's newest drive-thru.
Arizona’s newest drive-thru. Image by Salad and Go

The fast food chain sells signature or customisable salads with house-made dressings for under $6 — plus wraps, all day breakfasts and smoothies — all made with fresh and sometimes organic ingredients. There is even a kids’ menu with a peanut butter and banana wrap, cucumber pinwheels, and of course, kids’ salad. The founder’s daughter prefers the smoothies, but also loves the salads. “Last night she was even eating my Caesar salad with me, and asking for more lettuce.”

Salad and Go also offers a seasonal menu, and this autumn’s includes an alternative to the ubiquitous — and calorific — pumpkin spice lattes. “We have a new pumpkin chai smoothie, too, to shame all those pumpkin coffee drinks, because this one is made with real pumpkin, carrots, banana, honey, almond milk, and chai spices.”

The chain is growing quickly, with six restaurants now and two more opening soon. “We should be opening about six to seven more next year, so about double our current size,” says Christofellis. “We plan to continue to grow in Arizona, but also we plan to go out of state in 18-24 months, which will be really big.”