Freshii in Gaviidae Common. Photos by Jason DeRusha.
We like to focus on local restaurants in Minnesota Monthly, but the truth is, many of us eat at franchise and chain restaurants, too. Once a month I intend on talking to people running those places, and trying out food at new spots to let you know what’s worth your money.
Give Freshii credit. This franchise wasn’t even on my radar locally until they sent out a press release taking advantage of Chipotle closing down for a nationwide food safety meeting Monday. Freshii offered 50 percent off all Mexican-inspired menu items “We at Freshii are big fans of Chipotle,” CEO Matthew Corrin said in a statement. “We figured the least we would do was look after their customers while Chipotle pauses to recalibrate.”
Freshii is a fast-casual spot with salads, wraps, bowls, and burritos. It’s designed to be fresh(ii!) and better for you—the hottest trend in food right now. Items are priced between $6-8, and the average customer spends about $10 a visit.
Bright and eco-friendly, the location inside Gaviidae Common in the downtown Minneapolis skyway is very busy. The average lunch will see about 300 customers move quickly through a line that starts at 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t stop until after 1 p.m.
How’s The Food?
It’s good! I tried the Pangoa bowl: brown rice, avocado, black beans, corn, tomatoes with cilantro, and a spicy barbeque sauce. You can add a protein for an extra charge, such as steak, tofu, or chicken. This thing was huge and I couldn’t finish it.
I also tried a Market wrap: greens, quinoa, beet slaw, apples, and dried cranberries. The food here is really beautiful. Bright colors and strong flavors make you forget that you’re eating healthy.
Scott McPhee grew up in South Minneapolis, and he used to run 200 Tires Plus franchises. From tires to salads? “Franchises are all about training and operations. Hire good people!” he said. Frankly, they’re not that different. Scott got turned on to Freshii after he sold his Tires Plus locations and retired, but found he was too young to golf all day every day. One of his daughters is a vegetarian and another is gluten-free, so when they experienced Freshii in Chicago, they thought it would do well here.
I’ve had Freshii in Chicago too, and didn’t know it was a chain. I really like it—so many options to customize your food. It’s quick, easy, and as healthy as you want it to be. Currently Freshii is being tested as a replacement for the old Target Cafés inside the stores. McPhee also would like to see Freshiis on campuses and inside large corporate cafeterias. For now, you can go to Gaviidae, Mall of America, and Southdale to try Freshii out for yourself.
Freshii Pangoa bowl
Have a franchise or chain restaurant you want me to check out? Post in the comments or email me: DeRushaJ (at) gmail.com