The popularity of salad restaurants rises and falls as quickly as health and diet fads in this country. One year will see a proliferation of salad-bar eateries with lines of calorie-conscious customers waiting to fill plates from crocks chilling under a sneeze guard, but come back in a few years and that healthful feed trough will have been replaced by a fast-casual burger joint with bacon in everything but the soft drinks. Despite trends, MAD Greens has managed to carve out a niche along the Front Range, slowly expanding its offering of designed and build-your-own salads to twelve restaurants in Denver, Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins. And according to Marley Hodgson, co-founder of the all-Colorado chain, the goals for the company include more stores in our state and beyond. With today's opening of a new location at 7300 East Arapahoe Road in Centennial, a fresh infusion of money from the Coors Family Foundation, and a new design theme, MAD Greens hopes to take its brand of fresh and wholesome fare beyond this market to a regional and eventually national audience.
By the time Coors purchased a majority in the fast-casual salad chain, Hodgson and partner Dan Long had already set their sights on expansion but lacked the capital to launch their vision. The acquisition by newly formed Coors subsidiary AC Restaurant Group gave MAD Greens the infusion it needed to carry out the plan. Darden Coors (whose food service resume includes legal counsel for the Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, of bagel fame) is now CEO of the chain, but Hodgson says that he, Long and the rest of the management staff are still fully focused on managing and expanding the business.
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"Working with the Coors family has been great," says Hodgson, adding that the family's roots in Colorado and dedication to Colorado businesses mean they share his goals. "They give us the resources necessary to fully fund and complete our growth plan."
The Centennial store features a new design theme and customer experience, courtesy of Xan Creative's Melissa Friday, whose track record includes Snooze, Los Chingones Ace and Illegal Pete's. "We wanted to emphasize our farm-fresh and local approach," explains Hodgson, "with a softer look, including wood floors."