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Friday, September 5, 2014

B.good brings fresh local flavor to South Nashua

All-natural restaurant “b.good” opened its first New Hampshire branch in Nashua on Wednesday.

With locations from New Jersey to Maine, b.good sources local food, antibiotic and hormone-
free meat, and non-GMO products from sustainable farms to put together a “real food” menu. But that doesn’t mean it’s all kale and veggie smoothies: b.good is also known for its burgers, shakes and fries. ...

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All-natural restaurant “b.good” opened its first New Hampshire branch in Nashua on Wednesday.

With locations from New Jersey to Maine, b.good sources local food, antibiotic and hormone-
free meat, and non-GMO products from sustainable farms to put together a “real food” menu. But that doesn’t mean it’s all kale and veggie smoothies: b.good is also known for its burgers, shakes and fries.

Despite being the second day in operation, the restaurant still had a party atmosphere Thursday. Cameron Galpin, official b.good grand-opening artist, traveled up from New York City to play live music while b.good’s marketing team Aubree Ginrosso and Matt Torilli, dressed as hamburgers, greeted customers and hosted games in exchange for free food coupons. Harvey, the food truck, provided a backdrop to the entertainment.

Co-owners and partners Jon Olinto and Anthony Ackil grew up together. After college, they worked in management but wanted to find a line of work they felt passionate about. Inspired by Anthony’s uncle Faris, who used to cook for them as boys, they thought up a business creating “real” fast-food.

“The vision has always been about ‘real food.’ It feels good to work toward something meaningful,” said Olinto.

They’re selling more kale and quinoa bowls than anything else right now. The “spicy avocado & lime” bowl is a mix of warm quinoa and veggies, cool cheese and avocado, and crisp kale with the tart kick from the lime and chipotle.

B.good started its own kale garden in the corner of the plaza at 219 Daniel Webster Highway.

“The locations all try to have gardens on site,” he said. Olinto said the Nashua kale garden should produce 15 to 20 pounds of kale per week once it matures. “Kale has the longest growing season—through November, and can be up again in April,” he said. Their Washington Street location in Boston has a roof garden on top of a parking garage that yields 1,200 to 1,500 pounds of tomatoes per season.

The new spot along one of the city’s busiest commercial corridors was actually one of the reasons for choosing Nashua.

“We’ve always wanted to come to New Hampshire, and Nashua is a great market,” said Olinto. The plaza landlord rents another location to the restaurant in Mass., and was familiar with their desire for an on-location garden. A perk of setting up in New Hampshire was they could keep the same supply chain, he said.

Menu options vary between states, and unique offerings in New Hampshire include a new acai berry smoothie and local apple and bacon kale and quinoa bowl. B.good employees are still playing with the acai berry smoothie recipe. Olinto said they’re confident in the ingredients, acai, blueberries, banana, almond milk, chia seeds and lemon, but are still working on ratios. The evolving nature of the restaurant is one of its signature characteristics.

“The menu is pretty broad. We keep trying to experiment—because the idea behind the restaurant is ‘real food,’ we feel that gives us license to try anything,” he said.

They introduced the “three greens” smoothie (spinach, mint, lime, pineapple, almond milk, honey, hemp seed) and it became an instant best seller. After the smoothie success, they adjusted their focus to meet customer demand and the kale quinoa bowls soon followed.

“We adapt to what our customers want. We outsell burgers with kale/quinoa bowls because it’s what our customers are looking for,” said Director of Operations Jason Alonzi.

But not everything can be local all year, especially in New England. Olinto said the idea is to know where the food is coming from, even when it can’t be locally sourced. “Knowing the people is the most important—the beef, cheese, produce, ice cream, bread—the staples are known.”

Beyond that, the burger beef, which is from a co-op in Maine, is ground on site and cooked fresh to order. From farming practice to food prep, “you know everything about your burger,” he said.

Thursday’s seasonal local ingredients were posted on the wall with many ingredients coming from Mass. The soda machine pumps out Maine root beer and the fresh juice machines have seasonal offerings like rosemary lemonade. Cold-pressed, raw fruit and veggie juices in mason jars called “4 Petal” are on display in front the cash register.

Olinto recommended the summer melon collection. The watermelon lime packed a concentrated punch of watermelon, which makes for a flavorful fresh drink.

Olinto said they’re looking forward to meeting as many people as they can in the coming days and becoming part of the community. He said the future might bring more locations in New Hampshire, but for now, they’re focused on getting to know Nashua.

“We’re psyched to be here, it’s going to be great,” he said.