Chopt was founded by Tony Shure and Colin McCabe in 2001, opening the original Chopt restaurant in Union Square, New York City. It was their founding mission to make healthy eating exciting for all people, and Chopt continues to this day to explore new ways for their guests to make better eating a part of their daily lives. Here, Ali Banks, vice president of culinary for Founders Restaurant Group, gives an insider scoop on the salad business.

When choosing where to open the next location of Chopt, how did the owners decide on Vestavia Hills?

We were drawn to Vestavia Hills after opening our first store in Birmingham at The Summit in 2021. At Chopt, it’s important to become a part of our local communities, and in Vestavia Hills, we’ve always felt right at home. People are friendly, there’s a fun atmosphere and the food and beverage scene is really expanding. We’re excited to be a part of this community and continuing to grow with it.

What are some fan favorites on the menu, and which do you think newcomers should try first?

We have a lot of unique offerings! My favorite warm bowl is our chicken tinga–the braised chicken tinga is rich and flavorful, combined with some favorite Latin-leaning choppings and our crowd-favorite Mexican goddess dressing. You can’t go wrong with that one. The Chopt Greek has only been on our menu for about a year, and it’s my go-to. Every bit of flavor and texture you could want can easily be made a little heartier with grilled chicken or falafel. On the move, I always get our kale Caesar as a wrap. I get our creamy Caesar dressing on the side and dip a little with each bite.

What is the most unique item on the menu, and what is it made of?

I think our most unique item is our Mexican Caesar. We took the classic flavors of a Caesar dressing and salad and made them craveable with Mexican ingredients like chipotles in adobo and cotija cheese. The salad is super simple but will be a constant craving once you try it.

What about Chopt’s menu makes it stand out from other similar businesses in the area?

Chopt is super creative–we never stop innovating. I think that makes us stand out because you can really choose your own adventure. You can craft your own salad or bowl using one of our 20 or more dressings, have a kale Caesar four days a week or continually try our rotating seasonal salads, bowls and dressings with curated artisan partners. We keep it consistent while always keeping it interesting.

When did you start working with Chopt, and why do you stay?

I started with Chopt in 2016. It’s been a really interesting role to be in for such a long time. When I started, we were just opening our 37th location, and now, we’re inching towards 100. I stay because we like to innovate and work with new partners. It would be boring to make kale Caesar salads every day, but I think we’ve put at least 20 different, new Caesars on the menu since I’ve been here, plus countless new salad and bowl inventions. I get to do this partnered with the best ingredients out there. I love being able to try a new ingredient, especially an emerging brand, and put it in Chopt locations nationwide. I’ve developed great relationships with incredible food entrepreneurs. It’s awesome!

Chopt Creative Salad Co. is located at 708 Montgomery Highway Suite 108. It is open Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, visit