Daniel Collar is a man with a masters degree in education and a burning desire to make sure Naples has some fresh options for lunch.
Giardino Gourmet Salads opened late July to a packed house and a surge in hiring.
“We didn’t expect to have so many people show up over the first week, I’ve had to literally double the workforce,” Collar, co-owner and franchisee of the restaurant said.
Collar worked for the Florida chain while attending college at Florida International University, he said he learned a lot about the importance of education on the job and actually enjoying it.
“It’s really not much of a job, it’s kind of like home, being here every day,” Collar said. “And considering my mom and dad work here with me, it’s easy to cultivate a nurturing community vibe in here.”
The restaurant has over 30 toppings and several options for preparation, from salads to grain bowls to wraps. Toppings vary from a variety of nuts, deli meat proteins, several different styles of cheese, and as many salad toppings as you can probably imagine without being overly colorful.
“My mom actually does the croutons every morning. It smells amazing in here when we’re doing those or the cookies,” Collar said.
Fresh ingredients are the name of the game here for Daniel. If he can source it locally he does and will often pay more if fresher options are available. The fire roasted chicken is one such item, and he says he wouldn’t change it for the world, even to save a couple dollars.
“Flavor is too important to me, I want people to come in and love the food as much as I do,” said Collar. “Corporate has done the numbers, and if you get really creative, there are millions of total options for how you can make your very own dish. It’s something I really encourage, especially because I eat here, honestly, several times a week. I always try new things and different styles of making established menu items to see if we can go that extra mile for taste.”
Nothing is ever off the menu, they never lose ingredients. This means that even if it’s not a marquee item, you can probably order it in some form or fashion.
Getting through the order line can be a different experience, as well. Every person is trained on food preparation, sure, but Daniel encourages everyone to be themselves and to have fun. You can get some pretty interesting topping ideas from the employees, along with a lot of smiling.
“We want it to be the best option for you to come in and eat. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty fun to actually work here,” Collar said.
GIARDINO GOURMET SALADS
3370 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 3, Naples
Open Daily: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Phone: (239) 778-0025
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