Salad bar fans – you’re about to love Minervas even more

Jan. 27, 2021

This paid piece is sponsored by Minervas.

The wait is almost over: The Minervas salad bar is coming back, and you’re going to love it more than ever.

“Guests literally ask about it every day, multiple times a day,” said Tim Meagher, chief operating officer of Vanguard Hospitality.

“It’s a huge reason they walk in the door. And we understand that. So we’re as excited as they are to bring it back – and probably more excited at this point because we know what’s in store for them when it returns.”

While the pandemic forced Minervas to discontinue its decades-old signature salad bar, it also sped up an effort to bring the all-you-care-to-eat dining option into its next chapter.

“Let’s be honest: The salad bar hasn’t changed very much for a very long time,” Meagher said. “And diners’ tastes and expectations definitely have changed. So we took a very deep, intentional look at everything about the salad bar. We literally went crock by crock.”

The first thing that stood out was that the ingredients weren’t the best ones for building your own salad, he said.

“So then we began working with a health coach and determined we needed individual ingredients like peppers, edamame, different things so you could truly put your own salad together.”

But the changes were about to get bigger than that. The salad bar had always been about three things: soups, salads and sandwiches, Meagher continued.

“We said, what if we took the boundaries off?”

COVID leads to local

COVID did a lot more for the salad bar than just make it disappear for a bit.

It showed the Vanguard team how to work closely with local producers to source food.

“We always believed we had a responsibility to our community and to farmers to help them with markets for their food, ways to get their name out and approaches to hone their craft,” Meagher said.

“But then COVID hit, our vendors got cut off from supply, and we turned to the farmers. During the summer, almost all the produce at Turks & Caicos Cabana Grille was local farmers. The beef was from local ranches. So we saw what this looks like. We learned what it’s like to have trucks showing up daily with fresh food. And so we’re building those local relationships, and that’s going to become the foundation for the new salad bar at Minervas. We’re normalizing buying local food.”

Without giving too much away, here’s a hint of what’s to come.

The soup

There will be no more ladling soup yourself and attempting to balance it with your plate as you return to your table.

Your wait staff now will take your soup order and bring it to the table. The famous daily tomato zucchini soup will always be available, and there will be two rotating soups along with it.

Guests also will receive a menu for the salad bar along with their lunch or dinner menu. Because the selections will rotate often, this will ensure you know what awaits as you make your dining decisions.

The salad

With the space freed up from moving the soup, dressings for the salads will move to the end of the salad bar.

There will be some permanent dressings and the addition of multiple rotating vinaigrettes and olive oils.

“Because of our relationships with the local farmers, we’re going to be providing incredibly fresh ingredients for salads that will change week to week in some cases, seasonally in others,” Meagher said.

Salad toppings will include a wide variety of fresh vegetables, cheese and tofu.

“So you truly can create your own salad, and there will always be a vegan salad and two to three vegetarian or vegan proteins,” Meagher said. “And if you have a gluten intolerance, we’ll always have something for you and commit to it changing along with the rest of the salad bar.”

Salads will include classic favorites and new additions, again on rotation. Some examples would be an ancient grain salad, five-bean salad, fresh fruit, pea and ham salad, a protein-driven salad, Asian ramen, a mayo-based salad and rice pudding.

The sandwiches

Remember the idea of taking the boundaries off? You’ll still be able to make a sandwich here, but those options also will broaden.

Minervas will work with Breadsmith for standard and rotating breads. There will always be ham and turkey, but a third meat will rotate.

The blocks of cheese that used to be self-serve carving at the end of the salad bar are going away – because, viruses – but there will be grated and sliced cheese, plus cubes cut from a block of cheese.

“The salami won’t be cut in slivers but will be small circles, and there will be additional cured meats that will rotate, so you can make a sandwich, but you also can build a little charcuterie plate with them,” Meagher said.

There will be variety of imported olives, pickles, seeds and dried fruits to round out the charcuterie.

And, of course, the signature bacon horseradish cheese spread will be back.

“We want people to come in and begin seeing the salad bar as its own entree whether it’s at lunch or dinner. It’s priced comparable to an entree salad, so we are delivering it as the main event and not only an add-on to your meal,” Meagher said.

The rest

The plan is to bring back the salad bar within the next month. Stay tuned for more sneak peeks as it comes together.

But that’s just the start of how Minervas is modernizing and elevating everything that downtown diners will experience.

“We’ve taken a closer look at everything – even things like the salt we use. And we’re reviewing every menu item,” Meagher said. “Minervas has always been a special place, and if we want that to continue, this is the investment of time and quality we need to make.”

So keep watching – there’s a lot more to come.

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Salad bar fans – you’re about to love Minervas even more

The wait is almost over: The Minervas salad bar is coming back, and you’re going to love it more than ever.

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