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Coolgreens — where eating healthy is not a punishment

By Dave Cathey Modified: July 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm •  Published: May 18, 2010

"And Trey's soups, well, you can tell he worked at The Coach House for a long time," Lower said. "The flatbreads were about trying to warm up the menu, too."

All the breads used at Coolgreens come from Prairie Thunder Bakery. Coolgreens recently introduced an Oklahoma Market Fresh Salad that is made up of only Oklahoma ingredients.

The menu contains several signature salads, soups, wraps and pizzas, or you may create your own. Coolgreens is set up similarly to Chipotle or Qdoba, and diners can choose ingredients and watch their meal being prepared.

The idea for Coolgreens sprang from the nation's capital. While visiting his daughter while she attended Georgetown University, local lawyer Tom Wolfe happened upon a place called Sweetgreen, which sold salads and yogurt emphasizing high-quality ingredients.

"Tom, who's a lawyer, called me and said he had a client interested in some restaurant consulting," McMurrain said.

The client turned out to be Wolfe, whose pitch interested McMurrain. They planned a trip together to Washington to check out Sweetgreen.

"The place was a little like the Soup Nazi," McMurrain said. "You turn a corner to get to the counter, and you better be ready to order."

But the food was good enough to compel McMurrain to reach out to one of Oklahoma City's most successful restaurateurs: Lower.

Lower, who owns The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro and a stake in Irma's Burger Shack and Big Truck Tacos, is not only one of the city's most prominent restaurateurs, but also is a gifted designer. The man who opened and designed the interiors for TheRoosevelt Grill and The Coach House also is responsible for the look of Coolgreens.

"When I was giving Chris my pitch, I got the sense that he hated the idea," McMurrain said. "I even said, 'You hate this idea, don't you?' But he said he was very interested, so we took another trip to D.C." McMurrain said they reached out to the Sweetgreen owners, three Georgetown graduates, to form a partnership.

"Two of them are from New York, and the other is from L.A. They told me they didn't know anything about the Midwest and were so busy with their operation, they wished us well."

Almost six months after the first store opened, a second store is ready to open its doors at 14201 N May Ave. Plans are set for a third store, which Lower said will be downtown with a fall opening planned.

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