Owner Brenda McGinness says using these vegetable and lettuce cutters has made it easier to prepare the fresh produce served daily at The Salad Bowl. The new eating establishment at 111 W. Grand opened for business June 1.
It took Brenda McGinness some time to convince herself to re-enter the food-service industry. By the time she opened The Salad Bowl on June 1 as an added dimension of her flowers and gifts business at Brenda?s Bloomers, she was convinced she was on the right track.
?I just thought, ?I?ve done that, I can do this,?? said the former owner and operator of McGillicuddy?s restaurant in Marion.
?That experience helped a lot?but it didn?t make the decision easier because I really didn?t want to do it,? McGinness added. ?But I felt like this is what I was supposed to do, and that was where the Lord was leading me. So I did it.?
Now, with the official grand opening set for Friday at the 111 W. Grand location in Hillsboro, she?s even more convinced than ever that opening The Salad Bowl was a good move.
?My salesman told me this would be perfect because people could shop, they could eat, and while they?re eating they could look around,? McGinness said.
?It?s actually working.?
Only fresh food
She said the key attraction of The Salad Bowl is offering freshly prepared healthy food at a reasonable price.
?People just need to come in and try it,? McGinness said. ?It?s healthy, it?s good and it?s inexpensive. Even in this economic crunch, you can still get a good lunch.?
Customers can enjoy that combination in the evening, too. The Salad Bowl is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturday, the hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours can be extended for special events.
McGinness got her start in the food-service industry when she took over The Big Scoop in Marion in 1996. Three years later, she opened McGillicuddy?s as a full-service family restaurant.
Four years ago, she opened Brenda?s Bloomers in Hillsboro, and was content to focus on flowers and gifts. By late 2008, through, she was entertaining thoughts of expanding the enterprise.
?We were talking about what we could do to generate more business income every day, and not just wait for Valentine?s Day and Mother?s Day,? McGinness said.
?I just thought maybe we could make a little place to eat in here. We started investigating to see how we could do things and got my landlord?s okey-dokey.?
Knowing from experience that operating a full-service restaurant can ?rule your life,? McGinness decided to focus on a smaller, healthier menu that required less investment in equipment and time?and avoided food preservatives.
?I cannot eat salads at certain places just because of all the preservatives,? she said. ?The way we do things, it?s all fresh-cut daily. It?s all real lettuce?no preservatives at all. I can eat this every day and not get sick.?
Her own health issues have influenced the menu.
?I?ve been on a special diet that has cut out a lot of the stuff I used to eat,? she said. ?So it?s fresh veggies, fresh fruit, fresh meat. I don?t fry anything?except an egg for my egg sandwiches.
?Everything?like our french fries, sweet-potato fries, fried chicken salad?it?s all baked,? she added. ?So it?s actually really healthy for you.?
The Salad Bowl menu offers eight sandwich choices, including several favorites from the McGillicuddy?s days, served with chips and a pickle for under $5. It also offers a daily choice of soups, side dishes, speciality salads?including three chicken choices?and a fresh Salad Bowl prepared daily.
The Salad Bowl also offers a variety of ice-cream options for dessert.
In addition to soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade and coffee, McGinness recommends the old-fashioned limeades they prepare on site.
Service for groups
Besides restaurant service, McGinness said she welcomes reservations for groups, which can meet in the front serving area or enjoy more privacy in a side room.
If a group has a different meeting place in mind, The Salad Bowl can provide cinnamon rolls, cookies, coffee cake, muffins and ?good coffee??with no advance orders required.
?Just come on in and we?ll take care of you,? she said.
McGinness does most of the cooking and food prep, but is assisted by a ?very good team,? including Jan Frantz, who specializes in the flowers and gifts, kitchen helper Karen Funk and wait staff David Vogel and Emily Bebermeyer.
Getting the word out
McGinness said she?s pleased with the public response to The Salad Bowl in the seven weeks it?s been open. But she knows she needs to continue to educate the public on two fronts: the opportunity for evening meal service, and that The Salad Bowl can satisfy a man?s appetite just as well as a woman?s.
?It?s not a ladies? lunch place,? she said with a smile. ?It?s a place where men can come in also and enjoy a good lunch?they can get full here.?
And men don?t have to worry about getting all spiffed up.
?You don?t have to clean up to eat here,? McGinness said. ?We?ve had construction workers (from the stadium project), and that?s been great.?
McGinness said she will soon have a Web site for her unique business that combines flowers, gifts and food under the same roof. The address will be brendasbloomersandgifts.com.
To celebrate Friday?s grand opening, The Salad Bowl will be serving free slider hamburgers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the restaurant.