HERMISTON
Veg Out offers salad selection

Ben Millard, left, and Jaclyn Crowder, right, opened Veg Out this week.

A Hermiston woman has turned a healthy habit into a much-anticipated business venture this week with the opening of a gourmet salad shop.

Jaclyn Crowder opened Veg Out with her brother Ben Millard this week, and the small salad shop at 319 W. Locust Avenue already has 33 reviews on its Facebook page, all of them for five stars.

“It’s been awesome,” Crowder said. “We’ve been kind of overwhelmed.”

Positive comments on Facebook were what spurred the business venture in the first place. Crowder said after the birth of her kids she struggled with her weight, especially since being a stay-at-home mom meant she had access to food all day long. To combat the problem she started experimenting with creating different types of salads, and found she enjoyed them more if she made them “pretty” too. It was only natural, in this day and age, that she then share her handiwork on social media before eating it.

“I started posting on Facebook for friends to see and they started asking me to make them for them,” she said.

Originally Crowder just wanted to sell the colorful salads from home, but soon realized the law required her to make them in a commercial kitchen. She posted on a public Facebook forum asking if anyone would be interested in a salad shop, and hundreds of enthusiastic comments poured in.

She asked her brother if he wanted to join in on the venture and he agreed.

“We felt we owed it to Hermiston,” he said. “That response (on Facebook) is what’s kept us going.”

The small shop, located just behind Bi-Mart, is take-out and delivery only, although the business’s Facebook page points out it is only half a block from McKenzie Park’s picnic shelter.

Millard said from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. business slows down, but if the first few days are an indication, when someone wants to pick up a salad during the lunch or dinner rush they should call ahead by at least an hour if they don’t want a long wait to pick up their order. Delivery of orders of at least three salads is available for a $3 charge.

Veg Out’s menu currently features five salads, ranging from the $7 classic chicken caesar salad to the $13 steak taco salad with cilantro lime dressing. Brazilian cheese bread, a fruit bowl and bottled beverages are also available.

Millard said since the kitchen is so small, the menu will likely always be limited to five or six salads, but the selection will change depending on what fruits and vegetables are in season. He said to start out the business is getting its ingredients from one vendor, but that will probably change.

“We’ve checked out some local lettuce places, and we might start getting some of our berries local,” he said. “We might try to source some more local produce, as much as we can.”

On Thursday afternoon a couple came to pick up a pair of salads and were surprised to learn that the shop had only been open a few days. Christina Martinez, who ordered the berry nutty salad, said they had just moved into town a couple of weeks ago and found Veg Out on Yelp.

“We’re excited to try it,” she said. “Our salads look amazing.”

Veg Out is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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