Getting a “Freshii” start to health and wellness: fast-casual restaurant offers healthy options on the go
As the calendar turns to another year, many find themselves making a renewed commitment to getting healthy.
Often, that means hitting the gym or dusting off home workout gear. But a well-balanced, healthy diet is just as important to making strides toward a fitness goal – and one that can be challenging with life’s other commitments getting in the way.
That’s where Freshii, a fast casual restaurant in the Cranberry Commons on Route 228, comes in.
The concept is simple, displayed in large letters on the restaurant’s wall: Eat. Energize.
“We’re trying to bring healthy food that’s affordable, fast and convenient to everybody,” said Laurie Waller, co-owner of the restaurant.
Waller is no stranger to running a business, having co-owned an industrial and welding supply business with her brother for more than two decades.
As her children prepared to go off to college, she set her sights on opening a new business of her own, with one caveat: no restaurants.
That was until she found Freshii through research and tried a meal at a Columbus location.
“After I ate the food, I knew I was bringing it to Pittsburgh,” she said.
She opened the first location on Grant Street in downtown in January 2018. Though it was a slow start as the Canadian-based brand inched into the U.S. market, numbers soon started climbing. The Pittsburgh location is the sixth-highest grossing franchise of more than 450 in the world, Waller said.
Waller said the idea of a plant-forward menu may seem daunting to prospective customers, but once they visit once they’re usually hooked.
“It’s just real food that’s put together in an interesting way,” she said.
The menu offers a variety of bowls, wraps, soups and burritos, with endless toppings and combinations available. A number of chef-created menu items occupy the main menu, though Waller said return guests have been known to create their own dish using a check-sheet system.
Thus far, Waller said bowls tend to be the most popular, those dishes like the tortilla soup do well in the Cranberry market.
The combination of vegetables, grains and proteins serve as the base, with ingredients prepared fresh each morning. Dressings are prepared daily, as are a variety of healthy, natural juices.
Waller said one of the challenges is showing customers that just because the meal is healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.
“You can eat here for the same price you can eat at any other fast casual place, and you can have a very healthy meal, and a very good portion,” she said.
While the meals themselves offer a healthy option for those under a time-crunch, the extra-busy can also take advantage of Freshii’s meal planning. Waller said a store manager will meet with a customer and discuss dietary goals and tailor a plan for their desired result.
Meals are made fresh and picked up at the restaurant each day. Freshii also offers a juice cleanse plan from juices made in-house daily.
Mobile ordering is available through the Freshii app, with the Cranberry location serving as a test location for local delivery within 3 miles.
Freshii also offers catering for large events, with orders placed in-store or online.
Freshii, 1713 Route 228 Suite E, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit freshii.com for more information.