It’s late morning, and the salad orders are rolling in, keeping several kitchen staffers busy behind the Santa Clara walls where a large painted radish has sprouted. That’s the branding for The Good Salad, a takeout and catering concept so popular and so highly rated that it’s landed on Yelp’s list of the Bay Area’s top 100 places to eat.
The culinary venture was launched in 2021 by founder-CEO Sanad Al Souz, an engineer who decided to jump into entrepreneurship after six years in tech. He brought his skill set — expertise in process, quality control and user experience — to the business and hired a chef to help create the menu of meal-size salads that feature regional produce, dressings made in-house and an astonishing 42 customizable ingredients.
The Blazing Bird, with Halal Cajun chicken breast, is the top seller at The Good Salad kitchen, which offers meal-size salads for pickup and delivery. This example shows the addition of scallions and pickled red onions. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Besides appealing to the weekday lunch crowd, The Good Salad stays open evenings, Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate customers who need to grab meals on the way home from work or on busy days off.
We chatted with Al Souz about the concept, the menu and plans for expansion:
Q Why salads?
A While working in tech, I always noticed the salad station at our big cafeteria would be the busiest.
Q How do your takeout salads differ from what restaurants offer?
A We prioritize flavor and variety, which means you can make the exact salad that you desire, whether it’s a diet-friendly, super-clean salad or a cheat-meal-style salad, and everything in between.
You can start with a signature salad and remove any ingredient (getting money back, which our guests love), then add your preferred ingredients. Or you can create your own salad. We also prepare everything from scratch to control flavors and quality.
Q What have been your bestselling signature salads?
A Our top salad is the Blazing Bird, which one customer said is “definitely 100% without a doubt my Death Row meal.” It’s Halal Cajun chicken breast, romaine lettuce, black bean and corn pico de gallo, avocado and crispy fried onions, with house-made Chipotle Ranch Dressing and the Good Glaze on the side.
Also the Steak Supreme, with glazed, certified Angus steak, romaine lettuce, smoked bacon pieces, crumbled blue cheese, house-pickled red onions, dried cranberries and sliced scallions. The House Buttermilk Ranch Dressing and the Good Glaze are served on the side.
I also should add that nine out of 10 salads are customized.
Q How has your Jordanian upbringing influenced the menu?
A Back home salads are mostly made with fresh vegetables and are side items. My favorite is called fattoush, which we have on our menu as the Mediterranean Medley (romaine lettuce, crumbled feta cheese, diced radish, diced Persian cucumber, diced tomato, sliced scallions, fresh parsley and baked whole wheat pita pieces, with the House Grape Vinaigrette and the Good Glaze on the side).
The Good Salad offers six signature salads, but all are fully customizable. Don’t want the edamame in the Samurai Steak salad, at left? Take it off your order and the price will drop accordingly. Or, add other ingredients. Shown at right is the Mediterranean Medley salad. (Photo courtesy of The Good Salad)
Q Dates play a prominent role on your menu, both in the Date Delight signature salad and as a snack add-on. What’s the background?
A I was looking for a ready to serve but fresh and healthy dessert, and dates were the first thing that came to mind as they are popular in the Middle East. The Date Delight salad inspiration came from traveling and trying a version of it in Dubai.
Q Your secret sauce, if you will, is a little cup of balsamic glaze that comes with every salad. Tell us about that.
A The Good Glaze is our take on the classic balsamic glaze that is commonly used in salads. We make ours in-house and infuse it with pomegranate molasses, another Middle Eastern flavor. People have called it “liquid crack.”
Sanad Al Souz, founder-owner of The Good Salad, stands at the customer pickup window in Santa Clara. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Q How does your Silicon Valley engineering background come into play? And have you made any changes based on customer feedback?
A We study every step of the journey from the moment someone lands on our website until they finish their last bite. I’m passionate about efficiency and quality.
We are committed to continuous improvement and are always seeking feedback. The biggest changes we’ve made that came from customers are increasing protein serving amounts, switching to wood forks (vs. previous plastic), selling our house dressings in bottles and posting full nutritional info online.
Q How was the demand for salads during these past cold, rainy months?
A Demand for salads generally drops about 25% during colder months as people look for warmer foods. However, corporate catering and office lunch demands remain stable, regardless of season.
Q Are you seeing a change in this work-from-home era?
A As people start coming back to the office, there’s been a significant increase in catering — up 20% the last six, seven months.
Q How large an order can your operation handle?
A With a newly opened production kitchen in San Jose, we have the capacity to do orders of up to 5,000 salads.
Q What’s next for The Good Salad?
A We’re opening in a prime location in Palo Alto, which will be mostly takeout but will have limited seating, and also working on a mobile app. Stay tuned!
Details: Open from 10 a .m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends for pickup at and delivery from 371 Laurelwood Road, Santa Clara. Order online at www.thegoodsalad.com.
Isaac McCuin makes a gourmet takeout salad for a customer at The Good Salad in Santa Clara. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
The Blazing Bird, with Halal Cajun chicken breast, is the top seller at The Good Salad kitchen, which offers meal-size salads for pickup and delivery. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)