Chop't Creative Salad Company's newest location in Charlotte is just the first of many to come in North Carolina, according to co-founder Tony Shure.
Transplants to the city may recognized the Chop't name: the company's new Park Road Shopping Center restaurant, which Chop't said last week is slated to open this summer, will be its first location outside New York and the District of Columbia.
"We want to open a bunch in North Carolina," including in Raleigh and Durham, Shure said. Plans are also already underway, he added, to expand into uptown Charlotte.
After several trips to North Carolina to meet with investors, Shure said the state appealed for a number of reasons.
"It seemed like everyone we met was wellness-minded, fitness minded – the way we all are nowadays," Shure said. "We're trying to make Chop't, and vegetable eating in general, just part of peoples' everyday lives. So we're looking for the most convenient places to be."
Though the Chop't menu may not look it, Shure describes the restaurant as fast-food. At the same time, he said, it's also a "full-blown culinary operation" that, for example, makes its own dressing and doesn't use sugar.
"The efforts behind the food are the same as what happens with tablecloth restaurants," Shure said. "All the hard work goes on behind the scenes, but when the doors open, we're as ready for speed as McDonald's and Chick-fil-A are."
Shure describes Chick-fil-A, an undoubted local favorite, as the In-n-Out Burger of the Southeast. The way Chick-fil-A operates, especially its friendliness, is "inspiring," Shure said, but "we just have different points of view on food."
"Why not have a bowl full of vegetables – crunchy, farm-fresh, locally sourced vegetables with really well-sourced, sustainably-raised proteins and homemade dressing? To me, that's a way to live," Shure said.
Shure and co-founder Colin McCabe, who met at the University of Wisconsin as undergraduates, started Chop't in New York in 2001.
"This is a really big deal to us, to go to Charlotte," Shure said. "To us, it's the same thing as opening our first store on 17th Street. We're putting everything we have into it, and we’re really excited about it."