Chef-backed salad franchise hits the market

By Nick Hall | 20 Feb 2020 View comments

A fresh salad franchise backed by internationally renowned chef Josef Huber is set to take the fast food sector by storm.

Over the last four years, Greenhouse Asian Salads has built a reputation as a leading healthy eating concept, and now for the first time, fans can get in on the action.

Speaking with Inside Franchise Business, Huber revealed that the fresh salad concept had launched an inugural franchise model, following the enormous success of the chain’s two existing outlets in Edgecliff and Lane Cove.

“We knew it was always going to be a bit tough selling salads in Australia, where salads are usually seen as a side dish, but we persevered,” Huber said.

“Now, there’s a big line out the door every day and I constantly have people asking me how they can invest or how they can open one of their own. It was that interest and support that really led us down this path.”

But for all its success, Greenhouse Asian Salads wasn’t always the business Huber had in mind.

Greenhouse Asian Salads concept

The Sydney-based operation launched back in 2015, when the professional chef found a kinship with then-colleague, now-business partner Lanna Wannawong. Her Thai-inspired salads were such a hit at his pizzeria Kirribilli Kitchens, Huber knew there was potential for growth.

“For fun, Lanna would make us salads and I couldn’t believe how great they were. I realised that there was definitely a market for these delicious and healthy salads, and that we needed to get these out to the public,” he said.

“Owning a number of restaurants in the past, I know the challenges that come with running a food operation. There are always dramas with chefs or grease traps or ongoing costs. This business is so easily replicated because you don’t need qualified chefs and many of those challenges are removed.”

The salad franchise concept will see Huber and Wannawong provide franchisees with perfectly cooked meat and deli options to compliment the healthy range. All products are made fresh daily, which Huber said was one element of the operation he wasn’t willing to compromise on.

“There definitely are challenges in making everything fresh, but they are entirely necessary. I’ve seen businesses pre-make things and it never works,” he said.

“You might sell things fast and cheap, but what do you do if you don’t sell it? I was never into pre-making things, because it limits what you can do. If you are going to prepare fresh to order, it has to be fast, it will require more staff and more organisation but it is possible and that’s why we created this concept.”

While the focus on fresh is definitely front and centre, Huber also revealed a sneaky ulterior motive behind his Greenhouse Asian Salads venture.

Restaurant mentorship

The professional chef explained that in his hospitality career, he had taken the most pleasure from mentoring staff and workers, helping them to launch their own restaurants and kitchens.

“There are lots of people that want to buy a business but don’t have the money. I wanted to help them, so I regularly went into partnership with people I believed in,” he said.

“They do the work, but I put up the money, the risk and the capital to make it happen. My purpose is to be a mentor. I don’t want to be retired, I want to watch people grow.”

Huber said the transition from restaurant partner and financier to franchisor was a natural progression. With Greenhouse Asian Salads, he is able to provide the framework for motivated hospitality entrepreneurs to get off on the right foot.

“I never thought I would be a franchising person; I am a creator, I can’t have limits, but not everyone is like me. Some people don’t know what they’re doing, so you need to give them the concept,” he said.

Developing health consciousness

It’s a good time to make the move. Australia’s developing health consciousness is redefining the quick service restaurant (QSR) landscape, which Huber said is future-proofing the salad franchise industry.

“This is the type of food that people will eat in 10 to 20 years,” he said.

“Burger concepts and fast food is a big hit now, but health consciousness is where the market is going. How often can you eat burgers? It’s not an everyday food, and the world is really turning against carbohydrates and sugar.”

The Greenhouse Asian Salads concept is now available to the right partners, but the business is set to take a measured approach to expansion. The salad franchise will look to open two franchises in the first 12 months, in the Sydney area.

Huber said by staying local, he can ensure store compliance, quality and consistency is maintained. After that, will come interstate growth.

“Once we hit around 10, that’s when we’ll look to explore interstate opportunities,” he said,

“But it’s great, our business grows every week because we’re not focused on trends. I always say, we’re not in food business, we’re more in the health business.”