Reporter's Notebook

Bread Zeppelin elevates innovation

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Bread Zeppelin offers the bright idea of custom chopped salads in hand-held hollowed-out baguettes.

 

Plenty of room for innovation remains in the restaurant industry, and the folks at Bread Zeppelin in Irving, Texas, are proving that point.

They have wed the growing demand for chopped salads with the popularity of hand-held, portable foods to create the smart and tasty Zeppelin, which stuffs a wide selection of on-trend greens into a cored-out baguette. I refer to it as “The Zeppelin: Hollowed Be Thy Name.”

Co-owners Andrew Schoellkopf and Troy Charhon, friends since high school, opened Bread Zeppelin, which is a clever play on the name of “Stairway to Heaven” rock band Led Zeppelin, in late summer in a small strip mall in the Dallas suburb. (More photographs below.)

“I was working for Eatzi's and Troy was at Central Market,” Schoellkopf said. “A few years ago, we had discussed the potential for fresh salads being the next big thing. We studied the landscape and saw the explosion of chopped salad shops in the Northeast.

“What we didn't like was the tortilla wrap. It was messy and cumbersome, and the tortilla never really made sense to us as a pairing for salads,” Schoellkopf recalled.

He and Charhon worked with Dallas boutique bakery to create the baguettes used at the restaurant and whose shape gives the sandwich-salad hybrid its dirigible-inspired name.

“We knew we would fulfill a need in the marketplace with chopped salads, but the Zeppelin became our point of difference that really sets us apart from our competition,” said Schoellkopf, who after working in the movie business returned to Southern Methodist University and then cut his teeth in foodservice realm by working two years for Phil Romano’s Eatzi’s concept.

“After two years of restaurant boot camp,” he said, “I was ready to go out on my own and so was Troy.”

Bread Zeppelin’s salads can be ordered without the baguette in a plastic to-go container and also can be customized a myriad of ways – with or without meat proteins.

The most popular combinations among the menu options include the Southwest, with avocado, tomato, corn, black beans, cotija cheese, romaine lettuce and a dressing of blue cheese or avocado ranch, or the Washington State, with grilled chicken, apples, walnuts, beets, blue cheese crumbles, mixed greens and a dressing of champagne vinaigrette or white balsamic. Prices range from $4.79 to $9.99.

Customers can also craft their own salads from among 40 ingredients and 20 dressings.

Baguettes are zipped quickly through a conveyer oven and the core is pulled out with kitchen tongs before the chopped salad is mixed and stuffed into the bread.

Charhon said, “We pride ourselves on preparing salads with consistent bites and are able to do so with our crazy mezzaluna knife skills – no one chops it faster.”

They do it so fast that, to quote Led Zeppelin, it almost leaves waiting patrons “Dazed and Confused.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at Ronald.Ruggless@Penton.com

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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