Dallas Native Talks DFW Restaurant Expansion

Michael Mina | Image by Michael Mina

Michael Mina has been with Salata Salad Kitchen for most of the company’s existence and in that time, he’s opened five franchises in North Texas, including his latest in Frisco.

“I was the first Dallas franchisee,” he said. “I saw the first concept in Downtown Houston and immediately, I looked at it and told [the founder] this is going to be a hit.”

A year later, the Houston-based company opened Mina’s first franchise at Preston Center.

“We’re still there,” Mina said. “After COVID and everything, we’ve had the same customers for over 17 years. The latest one I opened is in West Frisco in Denton County. It’s a great neighborhood store. I plan on opening the next one in the Prosper-Celina area sometime in the next 18 months.”

A Dallas native and former sales and marketing professional, Mina, 50, also operates franchises in Downtown Dallas, University Park, and Highland Park. The Frisco store is the company’s 98th.

“I actually have a little culinary background,” he said. “I was training in Houston, looking to open some other kind of restaurant concepts when I saw Salata and fell in love with it. I’ve been doing this ever since.”

Founded by Berge Simonian in 2005, Salata allows customers to create their own salads and wraps using more than 50 toppings and signature dressings.

“Salata and West Frisco are a perfect fit,” Mina said. “The people out there are wonderful, nice people. Specifically, that area of Eldorado and Legacy is just a great, busy neighborhood store. We’re tucked into the community over there, and it’s a quarter mile away from the new PGA of America and Universal Studios.”

The restaurant at The Shops at Eldorado opened in March.

“The Frisco store, so far, reminds of the first store I did at University Park,” Mina said. “I still have the same customers from there. One of the special things about Salata is the people are so loyal and also so appreciate of us, and it’s a good feeling, especially in the restaurant business.”

Mina considers himself “a hands-on operator,” but he qualified that by saying he gives his managers the resources and space they need to help him run successful stores.

“My approach is to not hire based off experience but off the person, meaning their character,” Mina said. “I’m talking about their personality. My approach is to hire good human beings — kind people and friendly people. And then we train them the Salata way. I hire my managers to run the restaurants, which they do very well.”

Mina employs about 40 workers at his franchises.

“I’m kind of a floater,” he said. “I visit with my managers and make sure the [product] quality is good. I make sure we are maintaining brand standards.”

But for Mina, taking care of the brand is not just about products and service.

“All my managers are moms,” he said. “They get off around 3 p.m., so they are still able to go home and have a lifestyle. Three of them have been able to go buy homes as well, which is really cool. I’m always putting people ahead of me in a healthy way. That’s the relationship I have with my managers. There’s respect there. This is just a great company and culture.”

During COVID-19, Mina was forced to close three of his franchises. But he retained his managers.

“All three of my managers moved to my suburban location at Preston Center,” he said. “They stayed there for a year and a half on an hourly wage just waiting to get their jobs back. At one point during COVID, all four of my managers were running the restaurant. Then, I brought my people back into the fold one by one. Salata’s been very good to me and good to the communities where I’ve opened.”

Salata also operates franchises in Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and California.

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