The new Clean Eatz Cafe caters to the ever-growing segment of diners looking for a quick, moderately priced, healthful meal.
Casey Schroeder, the local franchisee of the chain based in Wilmington, North Carolina, acknowledges the rapidly expanding list of other central Ohio restaurants pitching low carbs, high protein and fresh ingredients.
Even so, Clean Eatz is different, Schroeder said.
The restaurant, which takes over the former Qdoba Mexican Eats at 5063 N. High St. in north Columbus' Graceland Shopping Center, receives fresh products several times a week, Schroeder said.
No oils, fats or salt are added to the food, he said.
"Our mission is to keep the food in its most natural state," said Schroeder, who also is a catcher for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
Schroeder said he became familiar with the concept while in college at Coastal Carolina University outside Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
"Healthy food gets the wrong connotation," he said. "Everybody thinks it's bland. We've had people come in here and get blown away by the food."
Nearly all of the menu items ring in at fewer than 550 calories; each dish's caloric measurement is listed on the menu.
Many dishes are priced at $8 or less, some including a drink and a side.
Clean Eatz offers burgers -- none made of ground beef -- served on a multigrain bun or bread. In addition, the menu has flatbreads, sandwiches, wraps, salads and snacks.
The early customer favorite, though, is the build-your-own bowl, featuring a base, as many as three vegetables, a protein, a sauce and a spice, Schroeder said. The bowls are offered in small, medium, large and family sizes.
As for beverages, the menu includes two fruit-infused waters each day, plus iced tea, smoothies, a proprietary line of fruit-flavored drinks without aspartame or sugar -- but no pop.
Clean Eatz is one of the few restaurants in its segment to offer a full line of frozen grab-and-go items, all of which are microwaveable, Schroeder said.
"Most of it in there is not on our menu at all," he said. "We customize it."
Clean Eatz also has meal plans, which can be ordered online. They range from five meals ($38) to 21 meals ($128), with up to six options per day.
"We make life so convenient," Schroeder said.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 614-505-8010.
Construction is underway on central Ohio's sixth Zoup! Eatery.
It will be at 4971 Tuttle Crossing Blvd. in Columbus, near the Mall at Tuttle Crossing, and it is expected to open by December.
The restaurant will be the first Zoup! owned and operated by franchisees Tom Dailey, chairman of the board of trustees at COSI, and his husband, Sung Jin Pak.
Dailey and Pak, who have development rights for central and southern Ohio, have committed to opening at least two additional Zoup! locations in the Columbus market, according to the company.
Central Ohio's first Gionino's Pizzeria has opened at 12983 Stonecreek Drive in Pickerington.
Part of a chain based in Tallmadge, the new pizzeria is owned by local franchisees Larry Halpin and Don Shackelford.
In addition to pizza, Gionino's is known for Italian fried chicken, subs, pasta and other items.