Just As I Thought

The Salad Bar Controversy

I was out this morning dropping off a FedEx package right by the Safeway, so I went on in to pick up some salad fixin’s for lunch. (Fixin’s is a Washington, DC term, derived from the Roy Rogers’ Fixins’ Bar that we all grew up with.)
I didn’t make a fuss and complain about the high prices and low staffing levels at Safeway, although I did notice that there were a lot of people working there at 11am when the store was empty, as opposed to 6pm when everyone gets off work and goes to the grocery store. Anyway, I asked about salad bars. There don’t seem to be any in California grocery stores, unlike back in the DC area where they build grocery store salad bars bigger than in restaurants.
They gave me two reasons that they don’t have them here: first, they require too much staff time to maintain, which I can see would be difficult at Safeway where they run the store on 2 people and a helper monkey; second, the problem of cross-contamination.
Now, there are salad bars all over the country, and very rarely someone gets food poisoning. It seems that this happens once every five years or so — while most of the time, this seems to happen from poor hygiene in the meat department. No pun intended.
I can’t figure out if this is a Safeway thing — since they can’t seem to clean any surface in their stores decently, they haven’t a prayer on a salad bar — or is it a California thing, brought to you by the state that posts signs on anything and everything telling you about the dangerous chemicals that might be lurking about. Warning! The State of California Has Determined that drinking unleaded gasoline may lead to birth defects!
There’s only one grocery store around here that has a salad bar, and even that is not counted because the store has a restaurant attached. The salad bar is in the restaurant instead, and it’s way expensive. Zanotto’s Family Market is ultra-pricey. Last month I stopped there to pick up dinner, and paid $15 for four chicken breasts. No, they weren’t marinated in platinum.

It’s funny. I used to complain about politics, now I complain about grocery stores.


  • Speaking of salads, one of my favorite restaurants out there is a chain called Fresh Choice. Check it out sometime. I have yet to find a similar salad-bar place here in D.C. (not that I’ve looked very hard).

  • When the health food wave hit and joggers were everywhere, every store had a salad bad. Maintainance and cross contamination are issues to be dealt with but not THE issue.

    The issue was and always has been Profit. If the stores made money on salad bars every store would have one but they don’t so fewer and fewer stores have them. You can find stores with salad bars when the store is located next to (within walking distance) a very large office buildings. If people can walk over and get a fresh salad for lunch then a salad bar is profitable and will stay, if not it looses money and is closed shortly.

    In Alaska every large store has a great salad bar. In Seattle few or none because great food choices here are everywhere. Where you (now) live (I’m guessing) The very large businesses that house hundreds if not thousands of hungry employees all have their own cafeteria’s with their own salad bars making a salad bar at Safeway moot.

    In addition I also believe that where you live the large businesses are a bit more spread out. And in these times of ‘Lunch hours’ now being lunch 30 minutes, driving to get lunch is out. Again killing businesses not located right next door.

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