Mad Radish tries to warm up the salad concept

Some of the minds behind David's Tea want to start the new wave of salad restaurants.

Mad Radish-Mad Radish promises Canadians food that tastes as gre

David Segal – the founding David of David’s Tea – left that successful retail endeavor last year to pursue “other entrepreneurial interests.” Last week, that interest opened its first location in Ottawa with a blue radish logo over its door.

It’s called Mad Radish, and its second Ottawa location opens next week.

“We don’t need to convince people that salads are healthy,” Segal told strategy. “We need to convince them that they’re crave-worthy. Mad Radish is all about the food that’s good for you tasting good.”

Mad Radish hopes to distinguish itself from larger scale competitors such as Freshii with a chef-driven menu as opposed to the build-it-yourself concept. While customers can order a custom salad, Segal partnered with Toronto chef Nigel Finley who designed 12 salad options to be served alongside a few soup dishes and freshly baked bread.

But the restaurant’s branding is also an attempt to move away from the template that Mad Radish’s team says built the salad QSR market but has since become commonplace.

Stephanie Howarth was the creative director and head of retail marketing David’s Tea. She joins Segal at Mad Radish as co-founder, and says her team (which handled the branding completely in-house) studied similar ventures in the western U.S.

“We realized there’s a first wave of salad shops where the word ‘salad’ or ‘green’ or ‘fresh’ is in the name,” she says. “The colour of the brand is always green. They paved the way… We want to be the second wave.”

They sought a brand colour that was warmer than that first-wave greens and whites (“which I feel can give a really cold aesthetic next to all that stainless steel and white walls,” she says) and a restaurant environment that uses more natural-feeling materials like terracotta tiles. The hand-drawn logo is another attempt to create a more casual tone.

“Some of these places look like a clinic because the salad can often be prescriptive. If people have concerns about their health, a salad is what they get,” Howarth says.

Howarth doesn’t have a marketing budget per se. The company is relying on sampling and word-of-mouth to get the ball rolling, with a monthly digital spend planned going forward. “We’re not really investing in advertising at launch,” Howarth says. “We want to see how much organic traffic we can build. We believe this product is really news-worthy. People are going to talk about it, and we’d like to benchmark those sales before I start investing in advertising.”

The brand is working with Craft Public Relations on media relations and PR.

It has also entered into a partnership with Community Food Centres Canada to donate one serving of produce to a community food centre for every meal ordered on its soon-to-be-release mobile app.

Update: This story originally said Mad Radish’s second location would open this week. Since publishing, strategy has learned the opening has been pushed to Monday, July 24.