The menu includes a number of salad varieties, including mainstream Caesar and spinach, along with signature creations such as the Tossed Signature Salad with baby field greens, roasted chicken, goat cheese, almonds, mango, jicama, cucumbers and dried cranberries with sherry wine vinaigrette, and the Tossed Tuna Salad, containing baby field greens, tuna salad with apples, dried cranberries and just a tiny amount of mayo, along with avocado, carrots, cucumbers and honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Guests can create their own salads by choosing from 5 types of lettuce; 8 proteins, including chicken, turkey, tuna and shrimp; 6 cheeses; 6 fruits; 10 gourmet toppings such as mango, avocado, walnuts and tofu; and 18 veggies and other ingredients. The four crunchy topping choices include croutons, tortilla strips, sunflower seeds and wonton crisps. Nearly 20 different dressings are available in Classic, Bold and Light varieties.

In addition to salads, customers can choose from whole wheat crepes and assorted wraps, gourmet sandwiches, grilled panini and hot soups.

The wall graphics in the dining area integrate the communities the restaurants serve by displaying iconic photos of local landmarks and institutions.

In the back of house, the foodservice equipment package helps staff provide a product that's uniform in quality in a time frame that harried customers appreciate. During busy periods, speed of service averages four minutes. During nonpeak periods, customers can receive their food within a minute of placing their orders. "Salads, along with all of the condiments, are merely combined in a well-designed, assembly-line fashion," Toroyan says, "When executed properly, it's almost like a symphony in motion."

There really isn't one key piece of equipment in the back of house, as each item plays a critical role in executing a broad menu. In addition to a salad spinner that gets a daily workout, the main kitchen lineup includes three sandwich-top refrigerated counters, an electric ventless countertop convection oven, 60-inch and 72-inch worktables and an electric food slicer, along with a walk-in cooler, reach-in freezer, salad vegetable dryer, panini grill, crepe maker, microwave, mobile proofer holding cabinet and cube icemaker.

"In addition to quality and durability, we look for functional utility such as having front-breathing refrigerated sandwich or condiment units," says Rob DelGaudio, director of training. "We are cognizant of whether they hold consistent temperatures during peak periods, as team members are constantly opening and closing doors. The biggest key is to make sure we are exceeding safety and health code standards." Units are capable of achieving high volumes, which reportedly top $10,000 a day.

"We're capable of handling a significant amount of volume in an extremely short period of time," Toroyan says. "It's much more easily accomplished in our segment with a well-trained staff that works energetically and synergistically."

Moving forward, Tossed management plans to grow the professional catering division. "Salads are a significant part of what we do well, but new guests are pleasantly surprised that our menu is so much more diverse that what they expected," Toroyan says.

Salad Days

Case Study: Tossed, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Q&A: Stephane Raveneaux, corporate chef Salata, Houston