Pandemic-Proof Dining Option?

Published by Chris Wangler- September 22, 2020.

Roots to Rise is hoping its intriguing new grab-and-go model in a former D’Angelo space will be a hit with returning office workers.
One of the company’s so-called “farm shacks” at 75 Third Ave sells fresh organic selections made from responsibly sourced ingredients. It’s open 24-7.
“We’ve tried to upend the traditional vending machine model,” said co-founder Lauren Joullian, whose mom has Waltham roots.
A swipe of a debit card and nifty little mechanisms whirr about to grab your selections. Everything―grain bowls, sandwiches, breakfast items―is prepared daily by a Roots to Rise kitchen team.
Lauren said all the salads except one are vegetarian, but they’re fortified to fill up busy corporate professionals.
“We really want to ensure that they’re nutrient dense,” she said. “A lot of our salads have a base of chickpeas, with fiber that’s filling. It’s not just air and lettuce.” All the dressings are house-made.
Some Roots to Rise menu items: (left) kale caesar salad and (right) apple cinnamon overnight oats. Photos courtesy of Roots to Rise
For some area office workers, the farms shacks have come to them. A number of the machines have been installed at Boston IVF, Boston Sports Clubs on Winter Street and elsewhere.
Roots to Rise co-founder Lauren Joullian (second from left) with her kitchen team.
Unused food is donated to a local non-profit, and guests can recycle their packaging.
The contact-free, sustainable concept seems like a good fit for COVID-averse diners, but Lauren said it’s been a “wild ride” trying to open a new business during the pandemic.
The D’Angelo sandwich shop on Third Ave. closed back in early 2018. Another business, Coolgreens, was supposed to open in the space last fall, but withdrew.
Lauren fired up a beta version of her farm shack in January, then had to shut down as the coronavirus struck. Her Third Ave shack reopened in May.
She is confident. “The community support could not have been better,” Lauren said.
To complement her farm shacks, she hopes to open her Roots to Rise cafe for in-person dining in the coming months, featuring avocado toast, smoothies and other healthy choices.