Colin McCabe is on a quest to make salad interesting and flavorful, one Chopt restaurant at a time. And the popular salad concept is building momentum in the Charlotte market.
It’s found success here over the past few years with suburban locations at the Park Road Shopping Center as well as the Arboretum and the Blakeney shopping complexes in south Charlotte. Construction on an uptown location in the historic Johnston Building at 212 S. Tryon St. is underway.
Uptown is slated to open this fall.
“Obviously, we knew it was a place we needed to be. When we’re open, we’re expecting great things,” he says.
But McCabe — the brand’s co-founder — says Chopt isn’t done with the Queen City, and it could double its footprint in the market.
“It’s been a very successful market for us,” McCabe says.
During a market visit this week, the Chopt co-founder spent considerable time eyeing possible locales. That list includes South End, Concord, Mooresville, and Huntersville. The typical restaurant comes in between 2,500 and 2,800 square feet.
“We are very deliberate and thoughtful about our real estate deals,” he says.
Chopt got its start in New York in 2001 and has grown to nearly 60 locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to change what was an urban experience into a suburban experience,” McCabe says.
Chopt’s concept emphasizes fast line speeds to get customers in and out during the lunch-hour rush. Its mobile app allows customers to order and pick up in-store. There’s also an option for group orders and catering.
“People learn Chopt is fast and consistent — even if there’s a line out the door, it doesn’t take as long as they might think,” McCabe says.
This week, McCabe slipped into the line at the Park Road Shopping Center restaurant. It’s a practice he employs regularly to check out restaurant operations — and snag whatever he’s craving that day.
“I’m never happy. I always see things that could be better,” McCabe says.
Chopt has built a following for its globally inspired salads. There’s tried-and-true combinations such as the Mexican Caesar or Classic Cobb salads as well as warm bowls such as the Mediterranean or Korean BBQ.
Customers also can craft their own salad creation, picking from a variety of salad greens, cheeses and toppings, such as gold and purple beets or roasted seasonal squash. Chopt offers 20-plus scratch-made dressings.
Every 60 days, the brand debuts new destination selections inspired by different regions. The current menu includes the Georgia Summer Cobb Salad with peaches and sweet corn.
“We go around the world in search for flavor. Then we look locally for the best ingredients,” McCabe says.
The brand also builds partnerships with regional artisans and purveyors such as Lenny Boy Kombucha.
VIEW THE ARTICLE AT CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL.