Just Salad plans to double its unit count in the next two years, thanks to its “largest ever capital raise,” the fast casual announced Tuesday.
The 47-unit chain, which has locations in six states and Dubai, received an undisclosed amount of money from Closed Loop Partners, a New York-based investment firm that funds businesses that are focused on sustainability. It is the firm’s first restaurant investment. Current investor Panda Restaurant Group, the parent company of Panda Express, also contributed to the fundraising round.
In addition to adding restaurant locations, Just Salad will use the investment to expand its environmental sustainability and technology initiatives, the chain said in a statement. Next year, the salad concept plans to expand its reusable bowl program to include digital orders.
Just Salad, which launched in 2006, has long had a focus on sustainability and zero-waste initiatives. Early this month, the chain partnered with the nonprofit organization Zero Foodprint to expand regenerative farming practices in the northeastern U.S. Just Salad added the new Zero Foodprint Salad to its menu, featuring vegan cheese, with 15% of sales from the item going to the nonprofit. It has long had a reusable bowl program for customers who order their salads in the restaurant.
“We are impressed with Just Salad’s innovative approach to embedding zero-waste principles across their business,” Ron Gonen, founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners, said in a statement. “They are a pioneer of reuse models at scale, creating the world’s largest restaurant reusable program and illustrating their commitment to extending the life of valuable packaging materials.”
New York City-based Just Salad saw its 2020 sales grow 2.8% from the year before, to $43.4 million, according to data from Technomic, a Restaurant Business sister company.
The parent company of Panda Express has made several investments in Just Salad since 2014.
Their growth in urban and suburban markets is impressive and is the result of great operations and focus on people development,” Andrew Cherng, co-founder and co-CEO of Panda Restaurant Group, said in a statement.