West Long Branch resident Traci Foggia has taken her love of healthy-eating and nutrition and transformed it into a business that has taken the area by storm.
Foggia is the co-owner of Salad Shack, located at 138 Myrtle Ave., Long Branch, along with her husband Stephen Foggia.
They opened their restaurant on May 27 and began spreading their slogan "Big on taste, less on the waist," around the community. Traci said the opening of Salad Shack represents a new opportunity for area residents.
"I've always been into nutrition and eating correctly," she said. "I've been a resident here so long, and there has never been a place where you could get a fast food healthy meal."
"There was really no place around here where you could get an awesome salad," she added.
Salad Shack has certainly filled the void with its seemingly endless number of salad combinations.
"We have very different salads, and it took almost six months to sit down and come up with all the different kinds," Traci said.
Salad Shack offers 20 specialty salads including the delicious Southwestern Shack which contains black bean corn salsa, avocado, jalapenos, tortilla strips and blackened chicken topped with homemade cilantro lime dressing.
This salad has it all; spice from the peppers and jalapenos, sweet from the salsa and avocados, crunch from the tortilla strips and a touch of tangy flavor from the cilantro lime dressing.
"The salads are very healthy and its a total meal," Traci said.
The restaurant's 15 homemade dressings are one of the highlights of the salads and they are made from fresh herbs grown on the premises.
"We grow our own basil, cilantro and parsley," Traci said. "Everything is fresh and homemade, no bottled dressings."
Also, if you're feeling creative, you can create your own salad while utilizing five different types of lettuce, 68 different topics (fruits, nuts, meats, etc.) and the homemade dressing.
Diners can also build their own wrap using all the same ingredients, or choose from 10 specialty wraps including the Black & Blue Shack Wrap which contains grilled steak, crumbled blue cheese, hot peppers, red onions and arugula.
Traci said the restaurant will also offer 42 homemade soups this winter, but diners can choose from soups such as turkey chili, garden vegetable and chicken soup now.
There is also a "Little Sprout Menu" for children which includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese and grilled chicken fingers.
Nothing is better on a hot day than an icy-cold smoothie, and Salad Shack offers exceptional dairy and non-dairy varieties. One of the best is the Banana Bash which contains raspberry sherbert, bananas, blueberries and apple juice. Once it's all blended together, this incredible concoction is creamy, fruity and satisfying.
Traci is happy to report that customers have continued to flock to the Salad Shack since it opened almost three months ago.
"It's been amazing since we've opened," she said. "The lines and phone calls since we first opened have been crazy."
She said the delivery service has been a hit as well.
"We do a lot of deliveries and we go as far as Red Bank and Ocean Township," she said.
Her decision to only use fresh and local ingredients has paid off for her new business as well. She said she enjoys knowing that her customers can leave feeling full and not full of guilt.
"It's fun to let people eat and feel good about themselves," Traci said.
The restaurant will have its grand opening on July 29 at 8 p.m., and there will be giveaways, food and music.
Salad Shack is open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and is located right next to Stephen's Garden Center, which Stephen has owned for many years.
For more information about Salad Shack, visit its website at www.saladshack.net or call 732-963-9268.