My QuickPicks
Register now to activate

Contents At A Glance

FE&SEditorial Archives2006June — Chain Profile

Chain Profile: Doc Green’s Gourmet Salads

More than 60 percent of the equipment and supplies at this fast-casual restaurant concept is on display as customers watch the preparation of salads, sandwiches and comfort food.

Customers may choose freestanding or booth seating options, which are within steps of a centrally positioned beverage station. Overhead track lighting and fixtures suspended from the ceiling help illuminate the dining space.

“Healthy food” is a contemporary menu descriptor that attracts some customers and is a turn-off to others. Recognizing this dichotomy, the founders of Doc Green’s Gourmet Salads positioned this fast-casual chain’s menu to answer healthy food aficionados and naysayers alike with a diverse menu. The chain’s motto: “Healthy as you wanna be.”

“Though low-carb diets may not be as popular as they once were, people are paying attention to what they eat and they are eating healthier,” says Carl Griffenkranz, Doc Green’s vice president of operations and brand head.

“Some want salads and vegetables, but others want to eat a heartier meal of sandwiches and entrées such as meat and potatoes. We offer options.”

Doc Green’s options run the gamut from made-to-order and signature salads to hot comfort food entrées and side dishes to flatbread sandwiches, soups and desserts. Whether customers prefer crisp romaine lettuce with vegetables and cold poached salmon accompanied by a glass of wine or crispy chicken tenders with sides of macaroni and cheese and sweet corn with pan-seared bacon, the chain assures them in its promotional materials that “Doc Green’s has something for everyone. Relax — it’s just food.”

“Before we opened the concept, we conducted a lot of research and visited many fast-casual restaurants that offer salad bars and build-your-own salads,” Griffenkranz recalls. “We decided to take a different approach and offer made-to-order salads with a variety of toppings and dressings. In fact, we positioned the entire Doc Green’s menu differently than that offered at chains with all-you-can-eat menus for $4.95. We thought we’d have much more success appealing to customers looking for higher quality products. We target a fairly affluent customer who frequents lifestyle centers.”

Decorative hoods attract attention to the grill station, at left. Customers approach the counter, moving to their right for grilled items, sandwiches and entrées. At the end is the cashier station, which sits in front of the beverage case holding bottled drinks, wine and beer. A dessert presentation on the front counter encourages sweet sales. After passing through the cashier, customers pick up their orders for sandwiches and entrées. Photo courtesy of Century Concepts Inc.

The first Doc Green’s opened in Atlanta in 2005. One year later, this remains the only corporate-owned location. The other eight units are franchised. “We will continue to franchise rather than open company stores, because we believe franchisees are attracted to the concept knowing they don’t have to compete against us,” Griffenkranz says, adding that by year’s end an anticipated 25 units will be open. Seventy-five franchise deals are in development with initial concentration in the Southeast. Near-term expansion is slated for high-growth areas around the country, primarily in the Southeast but also the Midwest, including Kansas and Texas.

Doc Green’s is part of Atlanta-based Raving Brands, which owns and franchises seven other concepts: Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Fu’s Asian House, Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken, Monkey Joe’s, Planet Smoothie, Planet Smoothie Café, co-branded concept Planet Smoothie and Nestlé Toll House Café, Shane’s Rib Shack, PJ’s Coffee and PJ’s Coffee and Lounge.

Inside Doc Green’s restaurants, which average 2,500-square-feet, earth tones, stacked stone and other organic-style decor contribute to a comfortable, relaxing environment that is in synch with the healthy food theme. Staff serve food on china and with silverware. “We differentiate ourselves with product and service,” Griffenkranz says. “We take a hands-on approach with training. A senior-level person works on-line with trainees. In addition, Kevin Brock, the director of franchise support, and I are at every restaurant opening to show franchisees the level of support we’re willing to give.” Griffenkranz joined Raving Brands four years ago and worked with founder Martin Sprock to open Moe’s.

When customers walk in to Doc Green’s, they see a full array of equipment displaying fresh ingredients and staff cooking items to order. Customers can go to a specific section to place orders for salads, sandwiches or entrées.

On one side, the salad prep area houses lettuce and toppings in a glass-fronted produce case and in two six-foot salad units with cold rails that hold ingredients in black plastic plans. Staff assemble and toss-to-order ingredients for a variety of salads. Customers can select their own combinations of lettuce and ingredients or order Doc’s signature salads, such as Dr. Detroit with baby spinach tossed with roasted button mushrooms, chopped bacon, sliced egg and chunky bleu cheese dressing and topped with grilled sirloin steak, or Dr. Beeks with field greens tossed with cran-raisins, feta cheese, candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. “We use clean bowls and tongs for each new salad made,” Griffenkranz says. “This may seem obvious, but it’s not always done in all restaurants. We want to emphasize our adherence to safe sanitation procedures and maintain the quality of the ingredients.”

Customers desiring salads move to the right of the centerpoint to select from made-to-order and signature varieties. All the ingredients are on display so customers can select their preferences and also see the freshness of the ingredients. Staff give customers their salads immediately after assembly.

Staff on the other side of the display case use a grill to prepare steak, chicken, salmon and portabella mushrooms for salads, flatbread sandwiches and entrées. Behind the line, along the wall between the grill and the register, is a hot-holding cabinet (this is in the back of the house in some units), a combi oven, a two-eye burner for sautéing vegetables and a fryer for making chicken tenders. Staff use a sandwich unit with cold rails to assemble flatbread specialties. Adjacent to this unit is a table for to-go items.

To the right of the grill is a butcher block with an overhead heat lamp where staff carve freshly prepared turkey breast for a hot entrée or a featured sandwich ingredient. An adjacent, four-well steam table holds entrées and side dishes such as macaroni and cheese, broccoli and carrot medley, sweet corn with pan-seared bacon and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

With their orders assembled, customers take their sales slips to a cashier. Bottled beverages, including beer and wine, sit behind the cashier in a reach-in, glass-door refrigerator. Fountain drinks and condiments are available in the middle of the dining room.

The back of the house contains a walk-in cooler and a dry storage area. Newer stores have a countertop freezer. Staff use a two-compartment sink to wash vegetables and a four-compartment sink for washing dishes. A low-temperature dishwasher that is leased, also cleans plates and silverware.

While prepping ingredients, staff work on a six-foot-long table with a freezer below. A salad spinner, slicer and wall-mounted dicer support vegetable prep. Meats are purchased pre-cut and sized, with the exception of turkey breast, which comes in raw and is cooked in-house.

“We need equipment that will take abuse from hourly employees who are rough on equipment,” Griffenkranz says. “We’ll also pay more for certain types of equipment because of our comfort with the company’s reputation and service levels.”

As Doc Green’s continues to grow and find its niche, customers will continue to let the chain’s owners and franchisees know how they choose to interpret the motto “healthy as you wanna be.”

At the carvery station, staff carve fresh turkey breast to order. A hot-holding unit and combi steamer/oven support preparation behind the serving counter.


Stacked stone counterfronts convey an organic-style interior design to complement the healthful menu-fare concept. Customers approach the counter and place orders with staff who cook and assemble orders. From left is the grill, carving section, sandwich prep area and entrée display station. Customers move to the right to the cashier.

Playful, colorful graphics and comfortable earth tones in seating areas invite customers to relax while dining on healthful food.

Doc Green’s Players

Founder and CEO: Martin Sprock, Raving Brands

President and COO: Steve Lamastra
Vice President of Operations/Brand Head: Carl Griffenkranz
Senior Vice President of Store Development: Darin Kraetsh
Director of Training for Raving Brands: Colleen Lex
Vice President of Marketing for Raving Brands: Brian Curin
Vice President of Store Development and Interior Design: Alan small, Raving Brands
Equipment Dealer: Concept Services, Austin, Texas; Century Concepts, Atlanta

Facts of Note
Ownership: Raving Brands, Atlanta
Opened: March 21, 2005, in Atlanta
Headquarters: Raving Brands, Atlanta
Units: 9, in Atlanta, Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama; 9 more in next 3 months in South Carolina, Kansas and Texas; 25 total by year’s end; all but corporate unit are franchised
Size: 2,500-square-feet (average)
Seats: 70
Average Check: $8.50
Total Annual Sales: N/A
Transactions: 4,000-4,500/day/systemwide
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (some close at 9 p.m.), 7 days/week
Menu Specialties: Made-to-order and signature salads; roasted, poached, grilled and carved toppings and entrées; side dishes; flatbread sandwiches; and beer and wine selections.
Staff: 2-3 managers; 7-10 employees
Equipment Investment: $70,000/unit + $40,000 furniture, lighting and signage

Photos courtesy of Century Concepts Inc. and Doc Green's.

Copyright© 1999-2006 Reed Business Information, a division of
The Reed Business logo, Restaurants & Institutions, R&I, Chain Leader, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies and FE&S are registered trademarks. All rights reserved.
Use of this web site is subject to its Terms and Conditions of Use. View our Privacy Policy (updated May 2006).