LAS CRUCES – The Salata Salad Kitchen restaurant chain is actively working to expand into New Mexico, with a particular focus on Las Cruces.
Founded in 2005, Salata is a Texas-based company specializing in custom salads and wraps. There are over 90 restaurants, most of which are spread across Texas – including one in El Paso – as well as locations in Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia and California.
Julie Davis, vice president of franchise development at Salata, said El Paso’s proximity to Las Cruces contributed to the decision to make the jump to New Mexico.
“Las Cruces really is such a natural extension of El Paso,” Davis said. “It’s ‘part’ of El Paso, but it’s really a distinct community. The proximity just made sense to bring our brand there.”
Davis said that in 2022 the company has been strategically extensive in identifying target markets and intends to have more than 100 locations by 2023. There are currently 81 franchise locations and nine corporate locations.
Salata is working to find a franchisee to partner with in Las Cruces. That person will have an impact on where in the city the restaurant takes root, although the company has already identified several areas that make demographic sense.
The company values and promotes healthy living in the communities in which it operates. Davis says the many outdoor recreational opportunities in southern New Mexico are other reasons Las Cruces is a good fit for the restaurant.
“(Salata is) very simple, but what’s amazing about our brand, and what’s happened to our brand since COVID, is that people really love the customizable piece. People are really drawn to taking responsibility for small decisions. And so we’ve really seen a tremendous shift toward health and wellness,” she said.
The project is still months away, but Davis said the goal is to hire and train people for an opening in the second half of 2023. A second location in El Paso is scheduled to open around the same time.
Davis said Salata plans to open at least 20 new locations in 2023 and sign 30 locations for growth in 2024. Davis said the company is currently recruiting across New Mexico. Locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Roswell and other urban and seasonal areas may appear in the future.
“I think the catering industry has the impression that the working hours are long and really strenuous. The restaurant industry is definitely hard work – very physical and you have to be there and focus on what you’re doing. But one of the things about salata with the lack of heavy equipment in the kitchen is a much less labor intensive and simple operating system from a prospective franchisee’s perspective,” Davis said.
Individuals interested in acquiring a local franchise location are welcome to apply to Salata online or by emailing Davis at [email protected]