Brothers Peter and Lou Liapis opened healthy fast-casual concept Grassroots Salad Co. in 2015 as a kiosk at Brookfield Square. It serves made-to-order salads, wraps and juice. They expanded the business in April 2018 to a location at Chase Tower in downtown Milwaukee. A year later, the brothers, who also operate Georgie Porgie’s Treefort Restaurant in Mount Pleasant and Oak Creek, are working on plans to grow the Grassroots brand nationally.
In a recent interview with BizTimes reporter Maredithe Meyer, the brothers discussed their plans.
How has business been since expanding downtown?
Lou: “We’re at capacity for lunchtime most days. We have high loyalty and retention of customers and we just keep building more and more… Top-spending customers are coming in three to four times a week.
“We have a rewards program and every month, it’s been growing exponentially. At the downtown location, we are at about 6,000 rewards members; Brookfield has close to 8,500.”
Peter: “Delivery at the downtown location and catering at both locations is also doing really well. We do four to five events a week, ranging from 15 to 150 people. We’ve even done one for 600 people.”
Peter: “We envisioned the concept as revolutionizing the fast food market and we are at a stage right now where we’d love to team up with someone to take us to the next level, grow it nationwide. We’d love to see it in hospitals, in airports, kiosks.
“We’re great at concept creation and execution, but then to grow to the national or international level, we need some help… We’re trying to create something that has uniqueness but has meaning to people’s lives.”
Lou: “(More immediately), we are adding a patio to our downtown location. At lunchtime, we’re maxing out capacity around noon to 1 p.m., so the extra seating outside will be nice. We’re also going to have live music performances by local artists throughout the summer with our new ‘Let the Beet Drop’ concert series (last Tuesday of the month from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.).”
Thoughts on area competition, staying relevant
Lou: “It’s great to have more healthy options that are available. I think what makes us different is the chef-inspired dressings, the organic greens and being conscious of the ingredients we put in the dressings and on the salads.”
Peter: “It’s never complete for us. We’re always improving, always innovating. As soon as you stop innovating and improving, it’s game over. With all our stores and brands, we are always doing something, and that’s what makes it fun for us. That’s where we get the most excitement –innovation and constantly improving and getting the employees involved in the innovation.”