Have you ever noticed that when you’re shopping for a new car, you can’t drive down the street without noticing every car that goes by? And when I was a Director of Public Works I couldn’t go anywhere without noticing traffic signals, street signs, curbs and gutters. I guess our attention reflects what’s important and that’s probably why I keep noticing new restaurant, grocery and retail that I think would be great here in Kent. Fresh City is the latest of my favorite restaurant concepts.
Bruce and Larry Reinstein were brought up in the restaurant business. Their father David taught them how to succeed: bussing tables, washing pots, making change, choosing produce, peeling potatoes, mopping floors…
But the most important thing, David Reinstein always said was, “treat your guests like family.”
After graduating from Cornell University, the brothers went off to prove themselves in the hospitality industry. But with David’s chain of soup and salad restaurants acclaimed as “Boston’s Best” and growing fast, the sons were soon called home. In 1992, David retired, leaving Bruce and Larry in charge. The business thrived.
“We need to diversify,” said Larry now CEO. “Soups and salads, no matter how many different recipes we make, no matter how good they are, won’t drive traffic in for every day part, and won’t keep even our most loyal guests coming back every day.”
“What did you think of those noodles we had in San Francisco’s Chinatown last year? Here, try these,” said Bruce who’s become COO with a passion for R&D. “I’ve been testing them in our culinary center.”
“Mmmm. These are good,” said Larry, savoring a spoonful. “But we don’t want to confuse our guests by straying too far from our brand.”
Bruce came back from Tuscany, a few months later, with bread on his mind. “Here. Try this. We can serve fresh bread without kneading any dough. I’ve jazzed it up with caramelized onions.”
“I like that,” said Larry. “It’s delicious and easy. How about adding fresh basil? What our guests like best about our restaurants is that everything is fresh. How can we capitalize on this ‘freshness’ thing? We need to own it, stock-in-trade.”
More months passed. Bruce and Larry worked hard. On weekends they worked harder. They traveled. And everywhere they went, they sampled and analyzed the local cuisine. From Shanghai to San Francisco; Memphis to Milan; Paris, France to Portland, Maine, they found the foremost chefs mixing and matching world cuisine.
“That’s fresh!” thought Larry, using the word like his teenaged son jumping skateboards and tuning rap. Reconsidering the notion, Larry thought, “Fresh Fusion… it’s like jazz but blending foods instead of music.”
Attending the National Restaurant Show in Chicago in 1996, the brothers were playing pool and shooting the breeze with some colleagues. “So… what if we did a fresh food marketplace…” Bruce went on to describe the notion he and Larry had been concocting, “where you could go to different stations to choose noodles or salads or wraps (yeah, you know, kind of like burritos gone native in Venice Beach) or smoothies (I’ve loved smoothies since the 60s and nobody makes them right anymore)…”
“We’d create a brand new brand, in a whole new category,” chimed in Larry, before anyone could criticize this seemingly impossible-to-market notion. “It may sound, at first, like chaos… but it all ties together nicely when you think of the niche as ‘fresh.’ The freshest ingredients, the freshest recipes, made fresh-to-order… a fresh new concept.”
“Everyone will love it: students, workers, seniors, Moms…” Bruce was quite convinced. “In the city, in the suburbs… all across America… They’ll all be thinking fresh!”
A Fresh City Tour
See slicing, sizzling, blending, tossing, wrapping chefs create your meal before your very eyes!
Sunny lighting, natural wood, bushel baskets, and plenty of fresh produce on display give Fresh City restaurants a cheerful fresh-air market ambiance. Even the colors are a garden celebration: tomato red, mango gold, peaches-and-cream, newborn lettuce leaf, sage, and olive greens, and a blue as serene as a farmer’s well-worn overalls… and the service is as good-natured as the decor.
Stroll into Fresh City and you’ve clearly encountered a fresh approach.
“We try to be a little unorthodox,” explains Bruce, “but in a way our guests can understand.” Cooking and preparation stations are open to view, where well-trained team members turn out Cookin’ Wraps, Salad Wraps, Salad Bowls, Sandwiches, Asian Noodles, Fresh Fruit Smoothies, Espresso Drinks, Cafe Chillers, Fresh Baked Goods, and more… all made fresh to order. “We have an obsession with quality,” says Larry. “An item doesn’t belong on the Fresh City menu unless it’s excellent.”
In developing recipes, Fresh City seeks out the best ingredients: noodles are brought in from New York’s Chinatown; coffee is roasted in the Pacific Northwest; and as much produce as possible is purchased from local growers. All Fresh City purveyors are held to standards that ensure consistency. Prepared on a daily basis, soups, sauces, spreads, dressings, and a variety of signature items are “Certified Fresh City Fresh.” Breads, muffins, cookies and treats are baked fresh all day long in every location where space allows.
“You can really tell the difference…” notes a pleased guest on an unsolicited Fresh City comment card. “This food is what fresh is all about.”
The critics, too have been impressed: Fresh City has been lauded more than once as Best of Boston and, in 2002, was distinguished as a “Hot Concept” winner by Nation’s Restaurant News.
Now with company-owned stores in multiple states and anticipating healthy growth, Fresh City is actively seeking franchisee relationships with qualified developers to build multi-unit operations.
The Key to Fresh City
Recently harvested. Newly made. Not diminished by the passage of time. Pure and wholesome. Unexpectedly exciting. Daring to be different.
• Prepared Fresh-to-Order
A blending of ingredients, ideas, and styles yielding a unique, often unexpected yet delightful result. A celebration of cultural diversity. Genuine American cuisine.
• Peking Duck Wrap with Jasmine Rice, Beijing Slaw, Hoisin Sauce, and Scallions
• The Gobbler Sandwich with Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese
• Spicy Peanut Satay Noodles
• Tuscany Salad Wrap with Baby Lettuce, Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, and Garden Tomatoes with Fresh City’s Own Original Balsamic Vinaigrette
• Stir Fry with All Natural Chicken severed over Brown Rice
• Pineapple Passion Smoothie with an Energy Blend Charger
Comfortable. Fast but not rushed. Order and watch your meal fresh-made. Have a seat and relax. or take it away. No need to leave a tip. Just leave with a smile.
• Breakfast on the way to work or play
• Most convenient morning meeting place
• Lunch with friends
• Afternoon snack
• Early dinner before the show
• Take the family out to eat tonight
Outside the box there’s a community of which we are a vital part. The Fresh City organization is committed to participation and prepared to give back to deserving causes close to home.
• Literacy for all
• Revealing opportunities
• Sustaining neighborhoods
Here’s the link for how to start a Fresh City franchise here in Kent. What are you waiting for!!