Greg Nalley has a winner. The chef, culinary director, and founder of Nalley Fresh, a new restaurant in Dobbin Center, at 6455 Dobbin Road, Columbia, MD, is using a tried and true assembly line-style method (see Chipotle or Blaze Pizza) of serving up "tasty, wholesome, fresh, and healthy" meals.
"Nalley Fresh is a chef-driven, all-natural, customer-designed salad, wrap, and bowl restaurant featuring homemade, specialty proteins and over 80 fresh ingredients and at least 15 international flavors. In addition, we feature a wide range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options, as well as choices for the kids... Express Your Inner Chef!"
To celebrate their opening, Nalley Fresh hosted a Community Day event at their store yesterday, February 27, from 12-4 p.m., to huge crowds, with a live DJ, Anna from FROZEN, and Monica Reinagel, Nalley Fresh's nutritionist, author of Secrets for a Healthy Diet, host of the Nutrition Diva podcast, and guest on the Dr. Oz show, on site, along with Greg Nalley. And FREE FOOD!!! What a fantastic way to bring in customers to try them out!
My daughter, Melody, and I decided to stop in and check it out. We invited a group of friends to join us, and we arrived to a large line of customers waiting to get inside. Our friends had arrived ahead of us, and were near the front door, so they invited us to join them (my apologies to those waiting behind us...with four young children, I didn't want our friends to have to go to the end of the line and wait all over again, and it was the only other way for us all to be together).
Despite the immense crowds inside, the staff was incredibly patient, friendly, and informative. The young lady at the door went through the entire assembly line process, and gave us a nice overview of the menu items. The menu is overwhelming given how many different ingredients there are from which to choose, but they also have "Nalley Signatures" with pre-selected ingredients. But customizing can be a lot of fun, too. First, you choose from a wrap, salad, or bowl. Then you add a base item (arugula, romaine, spinach, or spring mix for salads/wraps, and rice, noodle, soup, or sweet potato for bowls), choice of protein (chicken, fish/salmon, tofu, pork, falafel), toppings (veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese...) and dressing.
Melody ordered the Noodle Bowl and customized it to her liking, adding mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken, carrots, black olives, parmesan cheese, cucumbers, romaine, and corn. I ordered a "Blue Collar" wrap with blackened chicken, and the pre-selected items that included brown rice, black beans, spinach, tomato, purple slaw, pretzel shells, egg, bacon, corn, provolone, and spicy ranch dressing, all on a wheat wrap.
My friends got a bunch of kid's menu items, including the quesadilla and mac and cheese, and the staff could not have been more accommodating and helpful. And friendly. I'm just so impressed by the friendly staff. Mr. Greg Nalley himself was present and running around greeting everyone (and he went relatively easy on me for wearing my Steelers jacket). With apologies, can I say how much he reminds me of a mad scientist? Think of a combination of Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV's Frank from Mystery Science Theater 3000:
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We really had a great time, and the food was especially delicious. Melody loved her noodle bowl, and I might try customizing one of the menu items next time (though the Greg Nalley creation I had was really good!).
Please check out Nalley Fresh! They are definitely worth a visit. Tell Mr. Nalley that a Steelers fan sent you! They will be a regular stop for us.
Have a great Sunday, everyone!