Raise your hand if you’ve eaten a salad during quarantine.
We can’t see you, but we’re guessing less than half of you have those fingers stretched high. And no shame if you don’t, eating healthy has been hard for a lot of us this year. Stress is at an all-time high and getting in the kitchen to whip up something healthy seems a gargantuan task.
This is why MIXT exists. Not only to save us from ourselves, but to make fresh, farm-to-table produce accessible and affordable to housebound (forced or otherwise) people like ourselves this quarantine.
The first of their kind, MIXT started a new era of healthy fast casual dining. Today, publisher and podcast host Brian Calle sits down with MIXT Founder and CEO Leslie Silverglide to learn more about how she came up with such a fantastic and gut-saving idea.
“My background is in environmental engineering and environmental science,” Leslie introduces herself. How did she get involved in the food industry? “If you come full circle it all makes sense,” she explains.
“I have a very deep passion for health and wellness and environmental sustainability,” describes Leslie. “And one thing that personally frustrated me is that I felt like you couldn’t get really good, high quality ingredients that were sustainably grown and locally-sourced in a fast casual or quick service environment back in the day.”
“I wanted to eat well, eat healthy, and eat real food and that just couldn’t be done unless you were at home making food or eating at a fancier sit down restaurant,” she continues. “So, I just saw that there was this very interesting opportunity to take ingredients that are at fine dining restaurant – in terms of locally and sustainably sourced – and bringing it to fast casual; serving it in healthy meals that people could customize and then also at the same time making every aspect of our business as environmentally sustainable as possible.”
MIXT is all about clean eating and clean business. Simply put, it is a farm-to-table concept that brings what already exists in the “sit-down” environment to the fast casual space. Making healthy options and sustainable eating accessible to everyone, even during a pandemic.
“I saw that there was so much more you could do when you looked at your environmental footprint – energy conservation, waste diversion and energy efficiency. That’s really the premise of how we opened the first MIXT in downtown San Francisco,” she tells Brian of their flagship location.
How did she go about the recipes and coming up with the menu, he wants to know.
“We knew that the most important thing is that the food had to be amazing and the product had to blow people’s minds. Luckily my brother is a fine dining chef,” she answers. He was able to take his fine dining perspective and apply that to MIXT, coming up with high-end concepts deconstructed into casual salads that are obsession worthy.
The first day they opened, they were so popular they completely ran out of food. How did they manage that much buzz to achieve that feat? As anyone in the food industry knows, the waves are rough out in the sea of public opinion.
“We were so unique, there was nothing like us,” Leslie muses. “It just felt totally different than anything else that was out there, so it gave people something to talk about.” Produce was displayed and chefs were ready to interact – the entire space was built around interactive and accessible wellness, something that had not been seen in the city before.
With two locations existing in Los Angeles today, MIXT was poised to open a lot more restaurants this year, then COVID hit.
“It’s certainly been the most trying time of my career, and just the most emotional time of my life I’d say with just the repercussion of what we’ve had to deal with the pandemic,” Leslie shares candidly. “I think that one thing that’s been very good for us is that we were already very entrenched in doing online ordering and partnering with third parties, so that’s something we’ve been able to lean on very heavily during this time.”
Determined to push forward, Leslie and her team are hanging in for the long haul.
“We’ve just been really creative with our team. One of our primary goals throughout this is to keep as many team members employed and working as possible,” she explains.
Hopefully, we’ll see more openings in 2021.