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Salad Days

The rise of a lettuce-based midtown meat market.


Photographs by Donald Bowers.  

A salad bar on the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street doesn’t seem like the most obvious place for youthful romance, but on a sunny day, there’s a mob of postcollegiate suits lining up at Just Salad for takeout of leafy green veggies—and each other. Most of the credit goes to owners Nick Kenner, 25, and Rob Crespi, 24. “We wanted to open a lunch place for the young, hipper crowd that I saw in midtown,” says Kenner, who worked at a hedge fund for two years before quitting to become an arugula entrepreneur. Their spot has taken off since it opened in May. “There are always attractive girls and guys my age there,” says Michele Waldman, a 25-year-old regular. “And Nick and Rob are so cute and flirt with all the girls in line—it’s great,” she says. And, of course, there are also those healthy salads. “Cute guys plus carb-free dressing? I’m so in,” she adds. With the women hooked, other guys follow. We stopped by on a recent Wednesday.

Steve Newhouse
25, investment-research manager
Why are you here?
There are a lot of attractive women in here. And the dressings are great. I come here for the dressings and the girls, basically.

Jason Zacker
23, real estate
Have you ever met anyone here?
I actually met the person I’m seeing here.
How did that happen?
She was ahead of me on line, and I had the guts to say something, and it’s working out.

Kristen DeHaas
26, ad sales for the Discovery Channel
How did you hear about this place?
Everyone in my office was talking about this new salad place with the hot owners, so there’s why I came here—the hot boys!

Brian Larocca
25, works at JP Morgan
Ever meet a girl here?
No, but I would like to. I need to work it more on line—it’s a little hard, a little hard. Maybe if they start serving alcohol on the way in, that would help a little.

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