WILTON, Conn. – When Wilton resident Victor Melendez learned that Soup Alley was for sale, he awoke in the wee hours of the morning and knew what he had to do.
He bought the storefront at 45 N. Main St. in Norwalk, boarded it up, gutted it and, in a short two months, transformed the restaurant into a clean, modern-looking salad bar. Melendez dubbed it Naked Greens.
The name was the hardest part, Melendez said. “I tried dozens of names.” It wasn’t until a long phone conversation with a friend that Naked Greens came up. “I heard it once, and that was it. It’s the foundation of what we are.”
And it is delivering “fresh, high quality” ingredients with “nothing artificial” to customers. Melendez offers predesigned salads or wraps, or you can create your own with a choice of 50 ingredients and 22 dressings.
Melendez wanted to create his own legacy after working in marketing for 20 years. He saw a need for this type of restaurant: a salad bar that serves healthy food — fast. This type of restaurant had become popular in places such as New York City, Boston and across California.
“I’m a very healthy person,” Melendez said. “So this for me was a dream come true. It reflects what I do.” He said he wouldn’t open a restaurant that sold hamburgers because that simply isn’t who he is.
And he loves it. “I have regulars!” Melendez said excitedly. The restaurant has been open for only two weeks, and he said he was thrilled to already have loyal customers.
It was having an understanding of what people in Fairfield County want that he attributes to his early success. “I know how starved for time people are,” Melendez said. “I wanted to make something that people who value time and quality would appreciate.”
In spring, Melendez said that he hopes to start partnerships with local growers through farmers markets to ensure the highest quality and freshest foods are used at his restaurant.