In the world of fast casual dining, many eateries often place a greater emphasis on delighting the taste buds rather than serving a nutritious meal. For Greenwich’s Myx Creative Kitchen, the concepts of tasty and healthy are not incongruous.
“It’s like a lifestyle brand,” said Rey Santos, director of operations. “It’s a unique place to get healthy food that you don’t really have to think about. One of the most distinctive things that we do is that we serve healthy food but don’t compromise our flavor. And you don’t have to worry where the ingredients are coming from or if there are allergic things in the food.”
Myx, which opened in April 2017, is owned by Palm Foods LLC and funded by the Greenwich investment firm Palm Ventures. Santos, whose previous food service work included stints as managing partner at the New Jersey-based Mr. Bruno’s Pizza LLC and several managerial roles at the restaurant franchisee Doherty Enterprises, teamed on Myx with chef Fausto Mieres, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who worked in Fairfield County restaurants, including Oak + Almond and Bartaco before opening his own Anthony’s Deli in Stamford in 2014.
Santos acknowledged that one problem in marketing healthy food options has been price — after all, fast food’s popularity has been fueled by cost efficiency. To keep prices at a reasonable level, Santos errs against overindulgence.
“The first thing we do is decide how much food people actually need to eat,” he explained. “We put just enough food in there so people have a good value. And we talk with our vendors and see what they can do to keep our costs down.”
Food preparation at the Myx counter takes place in full view of the customers, while a separate grab-and-go section offers prepacked meals for those in a hurry. Santos noted the freshly made sauté bowls — which feature a mix of fresh vegetables with either brown rice or quinoa that come with a choice of sesame ginger, coconut curry, turmeric garlic, Korean BBQ or Moroccan sauces — are the customers’ favorite offering.
“It’s sautéed fresh and the sauce drives the flavor,” said Santos, adding that customer feedback has been invaluable in determining the right ingredient blends. “Our big challenge has been just knowing what the customer wants. We’ve been interacting with the customers to learn what they want from the business and have been adapting to that.”
Keeping the customers’ needs in mind has been central to Myx’s recently introduced app, which enables the user to fully customize a meal based on specific nutritional preferences before placing the order.
“It has a sliding scale to adjust if you want more broccoli or if you want to see how many calories or carbs are included or if you want to add more protein,” Santos said.
Another challenge has been calling attention to Myx’s location. The venue at 19 W. Elm St. is on a small side street off the Greenwich Avenue shopping thoroughfare — and unless you are specifically heading down that street, it is easy not to see Myx. For Santos, a proactive outreach has been crucial to call attention to his establishment.
“We have been getting involved in the community, doing things with other local vendors on the avenue so they support us and being involved with the chamber of commerce,” he said. “We’re trying to grow larger and reach more people, but we feel there is a broader audience locally that we haven’t touched yet.”
Still, Santos said that Myx has been attracting “hundreds and hundreds a week,” thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations and four-star reviews on sites, including Yelp and GrubHub. “We’ve gotten people from Westchester and we do a lot of business with people from Stamford and Westport. At lunch, we get a wide range of people, business professionals and people coming from their gym. It’s like the one place in Greenwich where everyone can mingle at one location.”
For the immediate future, Santos is planning to introduce an in-store digital kiosk to enable a faster food-ordering process. Down the road, he is considering additional outlets across the region.
“We would definitely like to expand (across) Fairfield County and into New York,” he said. “We would like to keep it kind of local and create a strong brand presence, and then go into franchising.”