Popular salad buffet Fresh Choice goes dark

Northern California restaurant chain Fresh Choice, known for its salad buffets and farm-to-fork ideals, has shuttered the last of its stores after failing to appease creditors and overcome a mountain of debt.

But before faithful customers could properly mourn the end of a salad-bar era, Fresh Choice was rebranded and reborn at two Bay Area locations. A few rounds of bankruptcy weren’t lethal enough to kill owner David Boyd’s mission to prove he could serve up a farm-fresh lunch and turn a profit doing it.

Boyd opened California Fresh, a more a la carte sandwich and salad eatery, in the former Fresh Choice restaurants at Bayfair Center in San Leandro and Vallco Shopping Mall in Cupertino this week. Boyd hopes he can reopen many of the 30-plus Fresh Choice locations under the new name. His plan is to make California Fresh more sleek and customized than Fresh Choice — he’s talking about a menu with baked potatoes with all the toppings, cappuccinos and a wine list. And while customers can buy salads by the pound, forget about the all-you-can-eat buffet — an outdated and costly menu offering that contributed to Fresh Choice’s nose-dive over the past four years.

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