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"I was overweight and always pressed for time.  No matter where I looked, I couldn't find nutritious meals served quickly that tasted good enough that it made me want to order it again.  This was the inspiration for Snappy Salads." - Chris Dahlander, Founder 2006

2004:  I was working for Brinker International as the Marketing Director for Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurants. I had a "comp" card that allowed me to eat free at Chilis, On The Border, Maggiano's, Corner Bakery, Cozymel's, Macaroni Grill, and others. As part of my job, I would eat lunch out all of the time.  My wife and I didn't have kids yet, so we also ate out for dinner. I guess because it was free - and part of my job - I would eat an appetizer, entree, and dessert.  And as you can guess, I got heavier and heavier.  Over time I bought bigger and bigger clothes, and I kept thinking to myself, "Oh man, I wish I hadn't eaten that."

It hit me one day as I was shaving.  I looked up and saw this person I didn't like looking at.  I was that guy: middle-aged and overweight.  It was then and there that I decided I was going to do something about being overweight.

I started seeking out more nutritious meals, namely salads.  Everywhere I went, the salads I tried were either really bad, didn't fill me up, or the service was really slow. I was hungry, frustrated, and considering going back to my old ways when I decided I'd do something about it.

[That's not me in the picture, but that's exactly how I felt.]

I am an Eagle Scout.  I'm proud to say this because Scouting taught me self-reliance, leadership, and morality. I have a ton of memories from this period of my life, but the one that stands out is when my buddies and I went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I put on a 40-pound pack and hiked through the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains for 100 miles on a 10-day journey.  Philmont is a place where you leave as a boy and come back understanding that you are about to change into a man.  A rite of passage of sorts.

The first two nights you have a guide that makes sure that you aren't killed by lions, tigers, and bears - and oh my! So there we were on the second night, all gathered around the campfire about to go to bed when the guide pulls out a shiny penny.  He says, "Watch carefully boys," and throws it into the fire.  Now, being 15, I thought that it might spark, make the flames turn into different colors, or maybe even explode.  But, nothing.  Nothing happened.  It was quite disappointing.

And then the guide said, "Go to bed guys, you have a long trek tomorrow."  The next day, we'd broken camp, backpacks on, and the guide says, "Anyone seen my shiny penny?"  We all look at each other and think, "Uh yeah, you threw it in the fire last night."  The guide responds, "We're not leaving until you find my lucky penny."

We all grabbed a stick, took off our backpacks, got down on our knees and started pouring over the wet ashes looking for his "good luck" penny.  As we're pushing through this muck, we find a ring tab from a can of Vienna sausages, some foil, and we even found the charred remains of a kid's retainer.  Eventually we found the penny, and when we did, he said, “Look at all of the trash that you were about to leave behind in this pristine environment.  You are about to walk through this beautiful land that has been unharmed for generations.  Leave this place better than the way you found it.”

"Leave this place better than the way you found it."  I thought about that for 80 more miles.  That's a lot of time to think about anything when you’re a 15-year-old kid.  It obviously made a lasting impression on me.  It was one of my epiphanies.

[I'm the second from the left on the back row.]

March 17, 2006 - St. Patrick's Day.  It was a lucky day for us (ask me the story the next time you see me).  After this idea for a restaurant where you could order the exact salad you wanted, made in minutes, with quality ingredients, in cool surroundings kept me up all night, Snappy Salads opened.  

Over the years I've had countless guests and team members come up to me and thank me for creating a place where they could eat fantastic food and still lose weight (few of them realize that it was a selfish endeavor).  People have told me 50, 60, 72 pounds.  And that is why we use the term "life-changing salads."  

I believe that a business should do more than create a profit - it must have a higher purpose. Our mission is to leave this world healthier than the way we found it.  It's easy to see that we deliver on this mission through our food.  What you might not notice right away is that we deliver on this mission through our eco-loyal practices.  We use recycled materials to build our restaurants and bring in food that was raised in a sustainable manner.  And we deliver on this mission by recognizing and rewarding our team.  Supporting our team is our top priority.  We deliver on this mission every day and appreciate your loyalty and hope you'll join us. 

We are looking forward to serving you again tomorrow.

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