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By Jen Russo
One of the newest restaurants to hit Maui is Fork and Salad. A concept dreamed up by the chefs behind Three’s Bar and Grill—Travis Morrin, Jaron Blosser and Cody Christopher—it’s meant to be a lean, mean, salad building machine. Oh, and they do sandwiches too.
“We designed this with the idea that you as soon as you meet with one of our salad techs it’s a three-minute process from start to finish,” says Morrin. “We have signature salads, classics or build your own, then you can add your proteins.”
Here are the stats: 12 signature salads, 11 dressings, 50 ingredients, seven sandwiches, four fresh pressed juices, six proteins, five leafy green bases, three soups, six Big Wave kombuchas on tap, One Nitro coffee and several beers and wines to choose from. The combinations are limitless.
“The sandwiches are awesome,” says Blosser. “The soups are awesome. You can do combos now. You can do a half salad and a soup for the same price, so you have a few more options. The Big Wave kombucha is doing really well. We have the biggest tap on the island. We have six kombucha, one kefir and one nitro coffee. They change regularly depending on what Big Wave makes. The beer and wine is not our focus, but its for the people who would like that, just in case.”
The restaurant is where Stella Blues used to be. Fork and Salad has a gorgeous and modern build out. The design is very clean, and welcoming. Blosser, Morrin and Christopher worked on the construction as well as the concept. They built counters, recycling bins, railings, tables and the water station areas themselves.
“We wanted to pass the savings onto our customers,” says Christopher. “We kept our start-up costs down, did a lot ourselves. We want people to not have any excuse for not eating healthy!”
As you enter the restaurant you approach towards the salad bar, menu boards overhead highlight the different salad bases, sandwiches, soups and pricing. The fresh salad greens are stacked right behind the salad bar, and all of the prepped ingredients like cukes, avo, pineapple, kabocha, chickpeas, red onion, garlic chips, carrots, beets, sprouts–50 in all–are in the bar. Proteins include chicken breast, falafel, ahi belly, seared ahi, poached shrimp and tofu. They also have a category called super finish add options like chia, flax or hemp seeds, bee pollen or nutritional yeast for a $1. As you’re greeted you order, then watch the salad come together. You can make any of your salad choices into a wrap, too.
“This concept is so new, the first time somebody walked up to the counter, we did not know how that was going to go,” says Blosser. “So it took us about a week to get some systems down to make the salad bar work. This is how we’re filling the bowls, this is how we’re stocking the bar. Finally it fell into place. Honestly, it was a lot easier than Three’s. It’s an eatery. It’s a fast food health food concept. I think people just picked up on it. We’re really happy.”
The sandwich menu has been a hit as well, featuring seven sandwiches designed in the 500- to 700-calorie range. I was surprised that the pastrami seasoned ahi was the lowest in calories, at 522. They also have lemon and thyme chicken, falafel and quinoa, roasted eggplant and goat cheese, shrimp and avo and an ahi melt.
“The smokey papaya chicken sandwich is our most popular sandwich,” says Morrin. “You can get this with a bowl of chili for two more bucks. What’s really great about the bread that we use is it comes from Blue Door Bakery. It’s a naturally fermented sourdough focaccia. There’s no yeast, and it’s organic. It’s the best kind of gluten you can put in your body, if you’re down to eat bread. And it’s made fresh daily here in South Maui. All the greens come from Maui, as many ingredients as possible are sourced on Maui, if not from the State of Hawaii. There are just a few small odds and ends–like, for example, the eggs. There are not enough organic eggs locally, so we buy cage-free organic from the Mainland. Everything else comes from Maui and it just tastes good that way.”
Fork and Salad had a banana kefir on tap next to the kombuchas. I hadn’t tried a non-dairy kefir before so I asked David Smithey of Big Wave Beverage Co. about it.
“Most people think of dairy kefir when they think of kefir, but this is a water-based kefir,” says Smithey. “They are fermented with grains. Well we call them ‘grains’ but they aren’t really grains. It’s a bacteria yeast formation that goes into it, like a scobie, and they look like little pearls. They ferment in the same way that kombucha does. It has a first ferment, then a second ferment where you add your flavors in. As for kombucha, hands down my Ginger Turmeric is the most popular flavor. In fact, I think that one is sold out right now. Cranberry is really nice, too, and it’s a seasonal flavor right now. Pineapple beet is an unusual mix–it’s really good. ”
The banana kefir was a total winner for me. I like probiotics, but I don’t love kombucha. I felt like the kefir was a little less sweet and fizzy. Another beverage you have to try while here are the fresh squeezed juices and the turmeric shot, made with honey lemon and cayenne.
“We make our own juice,” says Blosser. “We have the Dawn Patrol, the Mean Green, and our Roots and Spice. We bottle them every morning for the grab-and-go section. Everything here is designed to be fast. We also do a turmeric shot. It’s not bottled but it’s in a container in the fridge. Be prepared–it’s really strong and tasty. I love them, I take them all the time.”
On South Maui’s Fourth Friday, Fork and Salad gets into the block party by creating a farmers market and beer garden on their patio.
“We partner with Brian from Okoa Farms,” says Morrin. “We set up a farmers market at night out on our patio area. He brings down a full spread, all certified organic, from one end of the patio to the other. He brings some really interesting stuff as well as his standard produce and fruits, it’s really amazing. Then we have the beer garden out there, too. We sell $5 Maui draft beers. It’s just a really nice place to hang out and get a salad and a beer on a Friday night and cruise.”
Fork and Salad has a phone app, and since using it a few times, it has been my go to way to pick up my salads. You can create your own salad, order up sandwiches and soups, and pay for it all using the phone. Then it will be ready on the side of the register. Skip the line and pick up.