The chopped salad controversy thickens. The Post caused a stir on Wednesday by reporting that prolific salad brand Just Salad was axing the option to have a salad chopped into tiny little morsels on command. Now, Just Salad CEO Nick Kenner is on the defense with the chain’s new no-chop policy. “It’s a better experience categorically,” Kenner tells Eater of the chopless policy.
According to Kenner, Just Salad started phasing out the chopped option (choption?) at almost all its stores last year. Only five locations have kept up the chop, considered by many to be an NYC tradition. Those stores will keep on letting customers request for their salads to be diced into itty bitty bits into June, but then the company will stop chopping entirely. Kenner says that stores that have already eliminated chopping have seen a 20 percent increase in sales, which he attributes to increased speed and improved taste and service.
The prep process at Just Salad now involves cutting toppings into smaller pieces than before, Kenner explains. The toppings will already be bite-sized, presumably eliminating the need to chop.
Kenner says this new process means “no crazy acoustics of chopping.” “The franticness of the process is removed,” he says. He claims that sometimes the chopping process caused confusion, resulting in salad eaters not knowing where exactly their salad was. The rounded mezzaluna knife was also bruising salad ingredients, he says.
The CEO also alleges that the side-by-side photos run in the Post’s story are misleading because they were taken at a Just Salad that still chops, so the un-chopped version wasn’t prepared the new way. A representative for the chain sent the following photos to compare the chopped/unchopped dichotomy:
While toppings will be pre-cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces, Just Salad won’t pre-cut its spinach or mixed greens, so salads coming with either of those lettuces as the base will be extra leafy. Just Salad’s director of culinary development claims that leaving the spinach and mixed greens whole improves “the integrity and flavor.”
Salad chains in New York are becoming homogeneous, and by laying down its mezzaluna, Just Salad joins Sweetgreen, Tender Greens, and Fresh & Co., which all preclude customers from asking for their salads to be minced. Chopt, obviously, remains a chop shop, and pretty much every bodega or deli in NYC will chop a salad.