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By Collin Breaux

People looking for a nutritious bite to eat can stop at the new Saladworks location now open in San Juan Capistrano.

The East Coast-based chain eatery opened a franchise location in the Del Obispo shopping center at 31876 Del Obispo Street, Suite 102—near Aspire Dental—on Monday, Nov. 21. Menu items include salads, smoothies and acai bowls. The restaurant is considered “healthy quick-serve.”

“We’re super-excited to be here in this shopping center,” co-owner Rod Markum said. “It’s super active here—lots of not only foot traffic but auto traffic. Our neighbors have been fantastic.”

From left: Business partners Rod and Shannon Markum and Nick Vernola (and Michele Vernola, not pictured), both married couples, have opened a Saladworks franchise location in San Juan Capistrano, which serves salads, smoothies and other healthy offerings. Photo: Collin Breaux

Markum was born and raised in San Juan, and very happy to open a business locally.

“I’ve lived here in San Juan my whole life, up until recently. I grew up in town,” he said. “Right here behind us used to be the old San Juan drive-in movie theater. My grandparents owned a house on the other side of this shopping center, so I grew up playing baseball and football right here. Now, we have a business right where I used to play in the playground. That’s kind of fun.”

Markum said the San Juan location is comparable to Chipotle in which customers can order salad ingredients at the counter.

“On top of that, we’re a co-brand with Frutta Bowls, so we also have smoothies, acai bowls, paninis and sandwiches and all those things, on top of salads,” Markum said.

This December will mark two years that Markum and his other business partners have worked on opening the Del Obispo spot.

“We got the ball rolling in December 2020, which was in the midst of (the COVID-19 pandemic),” he said. “From there, we found out there’s supply-chain issues. People from contractors to county agencies were working at home and not full-staffed. What we thought would be an 8- to 12-month process doubled in time because of that.”

Momentum picked up in the middle of this year, according to Markum.

“I think the great concept’s that hitting us here in South Orange County is the healthy quick-serve. We just don’t have that,” he said. “We have the burger places and the sandwich places and all the different stuff, but to have the healthy, quick option is something that’s unique to our area. It combines a lot of things. There’s a wide range of things you can get healthy and quick.”

Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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