Coolgreens to add locations beyond state lines

Published Monday, February 11, 2019
by Molly M. Fleming

The new Coolgreens menu is anticipated to help the Oklahoma City-based restaurant company expand outside state lines.

The company has four new franchisees and wants to get more, said Amanda Powell, director of operations and training for Coolgreens. Chef Vuong Nguyen started working on the new menu in October.

“When we started looking at going nationwide, we wanted to make it more appealing to different sections of the country,” Powell said. “We gave a refresh to what we have to make it more interesting.”

Coolgreens was founded in Oklahoma City in 2009 by attorney Tom Wolfe. Robert Lee purchased the company and became CEO in 2014. There are six Coolgreens locations only in the Oklahoma City area at this time.

The first Tulsa location, 5501 E. 41st St., will open this month. One Texas-based franchisee will open a location in Southlake in March. Another Texas-based franchisee will open a store in Richardson.

Powell said the new menu doesn’t have some options that were on the old menu. But that makes the food easier to execute and it can be made quicker.

New menu items include a bacon blue flatbread with bacon and smoked blue cheese; a margherita pizza with pesto sauce, shredded mozzarella, house-roasted tomatoes and fresh basil; a spicy avocado crunch sandwich with artisan blend cheese, spicy mayo, jalapenos, corn tortilla chips and fresh avocado on wheat ciabatta; and a salmon club sandwich, which is served on marble rye with basil mayonnaise, salmon, crispy diced bacon, fresh greens, tomatoes, and red onion.

“It’s easier for the franchisee to not have so many different items in their restaurants,” she said.

Each franchisee is required to open three restaurants. Coolgreens has a goal to open 10 new restaurants this year, with another 10 restaurants in 2020.

Powell said the new menu’s items are priced higher than the old menu. However, other changes include the create-your-own-salad now coming with unlimited non-premium toppings. Previously, customers were limited to five non-premium toppings.

“We haven’t seen a price increase in almost four years,” she said.

As Coolgreens expands nationally, it enters a competitive salad-based restaurant market. In Oklahoma City, Coolgreens already competes with Texas-based Salata. Other salad-like concepts include Sweetgreen and Chopt. California-based Tender Greens has expanded to the East Coast, though it doesn’t classify itself as a salad concept.

Coolgreens is also hitting the coast, with a franchisee that plans to open locations in Boston, Massachusetts, and Miami, Florida.

But Powell said the Oklahoma City-based company can set itself apart from other salad-based concepts because it has other options. The menu includes quinoa bowls, flatbread pizzas, and sandwiches.

In the restaurant industry, when groups choose where to eat or where not to eat, operators often refer to the not-vote as the veto vote.

Powell said it can compete for franchisees against other salad concepts because it offers more. The restaurant doesn’t get the veto vote as often as other salad-like concepts because Coolgreens offers more than salads, she said.

Coolgreens also has a heavy focus on hospitality, which she referred to as a hospitality blanket.

“We want to make everyone feel special when they come,” she said.

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