By Mario Toneguzzi
The founder of DAVIDsTEA has a mission to change the way Canadians eat.
David Segal started Mad Radish, a chain of salad shops, in Ottawa a year ago in July and today it has three locations in the capital city. The next step for his expansion plans includes opening a store in Toronto in October at 2293 Yonge Street, just steps north of Eglinton.
“First we’re going to change what people crave. It’s all about eating healthy. Too often it feels like it’s taking your medicine and I think that has to change,” said Segal. “We’re trying to give you really tasty food . . . Getting access to a high-quality, great tasting, nutritious meal shouldn’t be a burden for busy Canadians. That’s why we created Mad Radish, and that’s why we’re so passionate about bringing Mad Radish to more and more cities.”
The new food establishment offers an ingredient-focused and chef-driven menu of fresh salads, seasonal warm bowls, stews, soups and healthy snacks, sides and desserts. Prices range from $3.75 to $14.
The locations do have some seating for people who want to eat in but much of the company’s business is takeout.
“It’s healthy food for busy people,” said Segal, who left DAVIDsTEA in 2016.
Segal said he’s not sure how many more stores will be rolled out after Toronto.
“It’s a tough question to answer. We really don’t know right now. Right now, we’re way more focused on producing great food that people love and that makes them feel great,” he said.
“The number of stores will evolve and take care of itself if we focus on the product and the service . . . We’d like to certainly (expand across Canada). Diet is the biggest health issue of our time and we feel we can have a big impact by giving people food that doesn’t make them compromise on having that joie de vivre, that sort of pleasure of eating and tasting great food, but does impact their health in a positive way, giving them energy and vitality and makes them feel great.
“We’re also cashless and we’re trashless. All of our packaging is 100 per cent compostable. Everything. We went cashless so we could speed up the lineup really quick. We also have our own app where you can pre-order your food and it’s ready for you with your name on it. You just grab it and go. You don’t have to talk to anybody. And we’ve partnered with a very interesting organization called Community Food Centres Canada . . . so every time you order with Mad Radish on our app we donate a serving of fresh vegetables to someone who needs it in your community.”
Before joining Mad Radish, head chef Nigel Finley ran kitchens at some of Toronto’s top fine dining restaurants, including Catch and The Chase Fish & Oyster. He has overseen the Mad Radish menu development since the brand launched just over a year ago.
The company says that under his culinary leadership, menu items such as the Smoky Caesar (a smoky twist on a classic Caesar made with smoked mushrooms, garlicky chickpeas, salty capers and savoury cashew “parmesan”) and the Fired Up Chicken (hot sauce marinated, family farm-raised chicken mixed with rice, roasted sweet potato, crisp red cabbage, pickled radish and a roasted corn and bean salsa) have become cult favourites in Ottawa.
“For every salad place, there’s 10 burger joints and I think the time’s come. Canada wants and deserves better, healthy food and that’s what we’re really on a mission to do,” said Segal.
“The radish is not angry contrary to what people think. Mad as in we’re a little bit crazy . . . We do interesting products that you wouldn’t necessarily always expect. We’re innovative in the marketplace. That’s where the mad comes in. We’re really trying to do something special . . . Sometimes we’re going to do things that are unexpected.”
Segal was co-founder of DAVIDsTEA in 2008 with the chain’s first location Toronto.
“To be honest with you, I loved DAVIDsTEA. I learned so much there and . . . it was very successful. But I’m even more excited about Mad Radish. I think it has the potential to impact a lot of people and that really excites me,” he added.
Editor’s Note: Mad Radish is represented by brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap [Contact Link]
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org