Mitchell native franchising his salad-restaurant conceptIn June 2010, Shawd and two business partners opened Mixed, a sleek, modern restaurant that specializes in salads on Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls. Soon, the concept will become a franchise with a second location in Omaha, Neb.
By: Candy DenOuden, The Daily Republic
Typically, little boys eschew green items at the table.
Not Cole Shawd.
“I’ve always enjoyed eating salads,” Shawd said. “There was just something about them I loved.”
The 29-year-old Mitchell native decided to do more than just eat them, though. In June 2010, Shawd and two business partners opened Mixed, a sleek, modern restaurant that specializes in salads on Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls. Soon, the concept will become a franchise with a second location in Omaha, Neb.
He got the idea from a brainstorming session with his dad, Tom.
“There’s nothing like it, really, in the Midwest,” Cole Shawd said. “From that conversation that day, it really stuck in my head.”
But that wasn’t the first time Shawd thought about business. He graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2006 with a degree in business administration and a concentration in marketing, with the hope of emulating his father’s business experience in the hotel industry.
“I always kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Shawd said. “I thought this would possibly be a good opportunity for me to make my mark.”
Already in Sioux Falls, Shawd, along with his wife and two sons, decided it was a good community to launch his dream.
The concept of a restaurant like Mixed appealed to Shawd’s business ambition and his passion for healthy living.
“I’ve always been a healthier guy, trying to eat healthier, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Shawd said. “That’s how the beginning started.”
Mixed uses high-quality ingredients and unique dressings that patrons can’t find elsewhere.
“The concept is about eating healthier and having fun while doing that,” Shawd said.
How does Shawd achieve success with a salad-focused restaurant in a meat-and-potatoes part of the country?
“It was really important when I branded Mixed that our image was presented in the right way, and I think that helped a lot,” Shawd said.
Part of that image, he said, is showcasing the restaurant’s unique approach to salads.
“Even though there’s salads served at a lot of places, there’s no place that focuses on them,” he said.
Since going salad-solo would have been serving a “niche” audience, Shawd also took steps to add other items, like wraps.
His strategies seem to have worked, as Shawd said business has been steady.
“There was some slight hesitation, but nothing horrible,” Shawd said. “We started off pretty busy, and we’ve been able to maintain.”
Now, there are even Mixed products available at convenience stores, and delivery and catering services are provided.
And it’s not just the salads that are green.
Shawd said Mixed is an eco-friendly business, from the lighting to the paper products.
“We’re not overly hippy,” Shawd said with a laugh. “But it kind of gives the customer an overall green experience.”
That experience can lend itself to a lifestyle, which Shawd said he hopes his restaurant can help people maintain.
“It’s important to me because part of living a healthier lifestyle is being more responsible,” Shawd said. “It’s being responsible for your own health, and for other people’s health and the environment.”
After two years of serving the people of Sioux Falls, Shawd and his business partners, his father Tom Shawd and Steve Clarke, of Mitchell, are branching out. The first franchise store is slated to open in Omaha in February.
“I didn’t want this to be a one location thing,” Shawd said. “My goal has always been to have my first franchise up before I’m 30.”
His birthday isn’t until May, so even if there is a delay on the February opening, Shawd is optimistic.
“It should happen,” he said. “Then we just want to kind of spread.”
He hopes to continue focusing on Midwestern locations, naming Sioux City, Brookings, Rapid City, Minneapolis and Fargo as places he’s targeted.
Shawd acknowledges he’s young to start a franchise, but he’s been preparing for it his entire life. At the age of 23, he was managing one of his dad’s hotels — an invaluable experience, he said.
Still, he said opening Mixed in Sioux Falls when he was 27 was “crazy.”
“I know a lot of people who aren’t even done with college yet,” he said.
A combination of passion, know-how and hard work have enabled him to get where he is.
“I listened to a lot of people, I did some research, really applied what I know and what I’ve learned and really ran with it,” he said. “No matter what age you are, I think you can really succeed if you can follow those steps.”
And, it helps to have a fresh concept.
“I really think we filled a void that people have been wanting and needing for quite a while,” Shawd said.
Mixed, located at 2604 S. Louise Ave. in Sioux Falls, is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Visit mixedgogreen.com for more information, including menus.