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R.J. Grunts' famous salad bar gets a digital makeover

The Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, largely credited with inventing the salad bar 50 years ago, is reinventing it as the Digital Chopped Salad Bar.
Digital Chopped salad
Photo courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

R.J. Grunts, the restaurant that launched Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises empire 50 years ago, is largely credited with inventing the salad bar.

Now the restaurant is reinventing that original do-it-yourself model as a Digital Chopped Salad Bar, LEYE announced on Tuesday.

The pandemic pretty much put the kibosh on self-serve salad bars—at least for the near future. Instead of transforming theirs into a server-attended station, like some other restaurants have done, R.J. Grunts is taking its iconic salad bar into the digital age. 

But the ordering process still has some high-touch features.

Dine-in customers get pencils and a paper card on the table and compose a salad by marking off preferred ingredients. Greens, such as a special kale blend or romaine lettuce, are selected first, followed by up to 10 choices of veggies, grains and proteins.

There are more than 20 different vegetables to choose from, such as fire-roasted corn, basil-marinated tomatoes, avocados, giardiniera and pickled banana peppers. The legumes and grains section includes quinoa, chickpeas and an ancient grains mix, while the protein choices range from grilled or crispy chicken, tuna salad, bacon and spiced tofu. Also on offer are cheeses, crunchy toppers like tortilla strips, sesame sticks or house-made croutons, and a selection of five dressings.

Once the card is filled out, a server hands it to the chef, and the customized salad is prepared and brought to the table.

Guests can also fill out the cards for takeout orders and wait in R.J. Grunts while their salad is made and packed. But LEYE expedites the to-go ordering process with a truly digital solution through a link on ChowNow.

Pre-pandemic, R.J. Grunts' salad bar was priced at $16.50 per person; the Digital Chopped Salad Bar is $16.95. It’s available for lunch and dinner, for dine-in and carryout.

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