Tired of working 18-hour days, attorney and dad of two David Delinko exchanged the courtroom for the countertop when left the law behind to pursue a healthier lifestyle. The Livingston resident opened The Salad House, featuring fresh, flavorful and fully-customizable salads, wraps, sandwiches, and smoothies, in Somerville in February.
If the name sounds familiar, you may have dined at one of the other Salad House locations, which include Millburn, Morristown, and Westfield. The business, focused on providing a healthy and family-friendly fast-causal experience, was founded by Joey Cioffi, who grew up working in the Cioffi family deli in Springfield. Much like his dad, who fulfilled his dream of becoming a business owner after immigrating to the U.S. from Italy, Joey opened his first Salad House in Millburn in 2011.
A frequent customer, Delinko saw the value in offering Garden State residents freshly-prepared, customized and signature salads handmade to order from wholesome, high-quality ingredients.
“In Manhattan, you have a Chopt or a Just Salad on every corner,” he said. “At The Salad House, everything is made fresh right in front of you. If you want guacamole, we’re going to slice open that avocado and make it in that moment. If you order steak, you can tell us ‘rare, medium, or well-done,’ because we’re making it right there. Everything can be made to each individual’s taste. We’re happy to cater to your family at home and your work family. Often when people are ordering out, one person doesn’t want pizza, another doesn’t want a sub. Here we have salads, homemade soups – made from scratch in-house – flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies.”
The Salad House’s most popular offerings include:
Eat Cobb: Baby greens, grilled chicken, applewood bacon, avocado, egg, tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese
Suggested Dressing: Ranch
Black & Bleu: Romaine & spinach, pasture raised angus steak, red onions, avocado, tomatoes, roasted garlic, seasoned croutons
Reel Love: Mix of arugula & baby greens, grilled ahi tuna, cucumber, edamame, carrots, pomegranate seeds, crispy wontons
Suggested Dressing: Tamari Thai Ranch
The seasonal ‘Oh My Gourd,’ featuring arugula & baby kale, quinoa, housemade candied walnuts, roasted butternut squash, and goat cheese has been such a hit, Delinko said the eatery may make it a permanent option.
A kids’ menu features beloved classics such as PB&J, grilled cheese, pizza, and chicken fingers.
“People give us a try, then they come back again, and by the third time, they’re hooked,” the business owner said. “They recognize good quality and fresh ingredients, so they come back. Our motto is ‘You can be as healthy as you want to be.’ You can have a freshly-prepared salad in just about three minutes. If you order specialty toppings, like freshly-grilled shrimp or steak, it may take a bit longer and our customers understand that.”
To help busy guests grab their meals and be on their way, Delinko recommends ordering online or completing a form that The Salad House will keep on file for quick and easy re-ordering. Thanks to ample portions, Delinko said 75 percent of his customers typically ask for to-go bowls to take home the rest of their meals.
From the dressings to the croutons, everything is freshly-prepared and made in-house.
“We roast the turkey that goes on top of the salads as well as the peppers, zucchini, eggplants, and butternut squash. Our bacon is all made fresh each morning and chopped. You’ll never get bacon bits here. We use bread specially made for The Salad House by Calandra’s, then we cube it, season it, and bake it. You can’t get fresher than that,” he said.
After conducting extensive market research, Delinko decided Somerville would be the ideal spot to open his franchise as the downtown is coming alive with a host of new offerings, including Grumpy Bobas, Cheech’s Own Coffee Company, and Village Brewing Co.
“We’re excited to be part of the resurgence,” said the entrepreneur, who noted that he helped design and rebuild the space at 58 West Main St. “We want people to come in and see everything as clean, fresh, and inviting.”
Come spring, The Salad House will offer outdoor seating.
Delinko said he strives to create a friendly environment where customers and employees recognize each other. “I want people to feel like they’re walking into a family-owned restaurant rather than a franchise or part of a corporation,” he said.
Though the business owner is still putting in long hours ensuring his franchise offers customers a delicious experience every visit, he couldn’t be happier and is looking to grow his team. “I need more cooks and I could use more help in kitchen as well as a driver or two. Even though we’re working, I want my staff to be happy here. I’m smiling all day long here. I come from an industry where hard work isn’t always appreciated. This is my work family and I want to take cafe of them.”
For more information, stop by The Salad House at 58 W. Main St. in Somerville, visit the website or call 908-203-5252. The eatery is open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.