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Eat Wide Awake: Adrien from SaladStop! is on a unstoppable mission to build his salad chain as a force for good

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A rare family-owned business, SaladStop! was borned based on a shared dream of a Swiss family who put down roots Singapore 25 years ago: a sustainable, conscious way of eating that is not only good for you, but also good for the planet.

Founded by father and son duo Adrien and Daniel Desbaillets in 2009 and co-headed by daughter Katherine Desbaillets and son-in-law Frantz Braha, SaladStop! has successfully cajoled Singaporeans to swap out typical hawket diets for its healthier salad options – and has built a fiercely loyal fan base ever since.

With Eat Wide Awake as their core belief, SaladStop! has plans to roll out plant-based initiatives, set up compost systems and become fully plastic-free – currently, their takeaway salad bowls are made of 80% recycled plastic or 100% unbleached bamboo fibres.

“Sometimes we get carried away and forget about appreciating the things that fuel us and keep us going – our food,” Adrien explains. “We want people to Stop! and think about their food, understand where it came from; think about the hands, soil and time that made it possible.”

There is a lot of truth in that. As busy urban city dwellers, we buy and consume food on a daily basis but could care less about where and how our food was grown, harvested and prepared. It is heartwarming to see a global F&B chain champion a cause much bigger than themselves and still operate as a “small company” that remains deeply rooted to the community despite its scale and success.

And the core of it all? Honest, good food. Opt for their signature salad bowls with a delightful, Asian tanginess such as Jai Ho! ($12.20), comprising fresh romaines, roasted chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber and Indian spiced yoghurt, as well as The Earth Bowl ($13.80) which is also vegan and topped with spices like crushed peanuts and thai turmeric.

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves, as the founders of SaladStop!

We grew up in the hospitality industry and were fortunate to live all across the world. This opened up our eyes to so many cultures and cuisines, many of which have found their way into the SaladStop! menu today. We are originally a Swiss family but have lived in Singapore for the past 25 years and will forever be the place we feel most at home.

2. Why did you start SaladStop?

Our family came together with a shared dream – a more conscious way of eating that is truly GOOD. Growing up, our mother taught us about honoring and respecting our connection to nature and family dinners were an opportunity for a home-cooked meal, using the simplest and most natural ingredients.

We founded SaladStop! in 2009 with the aim of bringing a new dimension to salads and approach to fast food. Today’s society is becoming increasingly disconnected with their food – we want to show that food consumption should be honest, trustworthy and real. As we’ve grown over the past few years, we constantly strive to improve and embrace an attitude to be “better than yesterday”.

 3. How did you start the business? 

We started the business with a mortgage on the apartment and grew organically for 7 years before embarking on our Series A fundraising round in 2016. The first few years were the most stressful as we opened 10 outlets in the first 2 years of operation and with all of our savings. We opened our first international location in Manila in 2015 and continued our regional expansion to 8 markets today.

4. What were your biggest challenges launching your F&B business?

Some of the biggest challenges included the high cost structures in markets such as Singapore, difficult labor conditions but more recently an increasingly competitive online marketplace. The arrival of 3rd party aggregators has been majorly disruptive for the F&B industry and we strongly believe that any F&B business in our segment not considering their online presence will find it difficult to survive over the next few years.

5. Describe what is SaladStop! is all about.

As we set up the salad bar every morning, we are driven by the communities that we work with and the lives that we are able to impact. We are just at the beginning of an amazing journey and dream about a world where farmers are respected and customers can start trusting their food again. We are still a small company but with big dreams and hope that we can be one of the catalysts in this change.

6. Why healthy food? 

In a world where speed, time and money is paramount, we sometimes get carried away and forget about appreciating the things that fuel us and keep us going – our own food. We want people to Stop! and think about their food, understand where it came from; think about the hands, soil and time that made it possible.

7. What do you envision the future of healthy food to be in Singapore?

We envision the future of healthy food in Singapore to be a lot more personalized. We have always aimed to serve the needs of most customers but we also continue to find an increasing number in search of specific ingredients, avoiding certain allergens or following a particular diet.

We recently launched Heybo, a wholesome grain bowl concept, with the aim of broadening our healthy offerings and creating more warm meal options, while still being build on the same fundamentals of preparing every dish from scratch and using technology to drive efficiencies, standards and a better customer experience. We continue to provide a full nutritional breakdown of every ingredient but look forward to taking this to a new level with a much more personalized experience in the future.

8. What is one advice or tip you would give to those who want to start an F&B business?

For those looking to start a scalable F&B business, technology and building an online presence will be crucial over the next few years. The industry is moving at such a rapid pace and customers will continue to expect a more personalized, seamless experience at their fingertips.

SaladStop! Promo code for After Clinic Hours readers

Use promo code “10OFFCLINIC” for 10% off all food orders on the SaladStop! online app. Valid for one time use only and valid till Aug 7, 2020.

Want more of these deals? Subscribe to become an After Clinic Hours insider.

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