Two years after launching as a grain and salad bowl pop-up, BLUEROOT, the fast-healthy concept founded by Jennifer Ryan, is ready to open its flagship location in Pepper Place.
Known for its salads and hearty, healthy snacks, BLUEROOT will host its official grand opening on Tuesday, July 20. Leading up to next week’s opening, the restaurant will host a special soft opening for the public from Wednesday, July 14 to Friday, July 16– an opportunity for guests to see the new space, peruse the expanded menu, and meet the eatery’s team. Patrons will also be able to enjoy a special discount this week (diners who mention learning about the opening on AL.com or other websites or social media platforms will receive a 20% discount).
Located across the Pepper Place pavilion from FARMSTAND by Stone’s Hollow Farmstead, BLUEROOT’s newly renovated 1,700 square-foot brick-and-mortar space will serve as the home base for its guests as well as its catering and production operations.
The opening will be a full circle moment for Ryan and her team. In 2019, BLUEROOT started in the same space as a temporary storefront featuring salads, grain bowls, and superfood snacks.
A West Coast native, Ryan and her husband relocated to Birmingham from New York a few years ago. While they celebrated the city’s burgeoning food scene, they also saw the opportunity for an eatery that offered a fast and convenient menu centered on nutrient-dense foods and locally sourced meats, grains, and vegetables.
Ryan tapped chef two-time James Beard Award winning chef Robin Bashinsky for the BLUEROOT concept, which launched as a pop-up series at Pepper Place in April 2019, boasting dishes made with meat and produce from organic purveyors and farms in Alabama, including Bois d’Arc Farm, Belle Meadow Farm and Ireland Farms. BLUEROOT’s menu, which Ryan says “sits playfully on the line between health nut and foodie,” quickly gained a following for its rotating menu of salads with greens and speciality vegetables, such as roasted squash and pickled onions, as well as grain bowls– robust assortments of greens and vegetables with quinoa or forbidden rice.
BLUEROOT’s sweet treats, such as the Not Your Mama’s Rice Crispy Treats — a snack with rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, puffed millet, and gogi berries– also gained a cult following.
Ryan and her team signed the lease to BLUEROOT’s Pepper Place location in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the restaurant’s opening. In the meantime, the concept expanded operations with an outpost in Mountain Brook, where patrons could order salads, snacks, and family-style meals for curbside pick up.
BLUEROOT’s location in Pepper Place is staying true to its emphasis on local purveyors. The minimalist, industrial chic interior features plants from Birmingham plant shop Botanica and tables crafted by Magic City Woodworks. Magic City signs also designed BLUEROOT’s neon signs.
While the Pepper Place flagship gives BLUEROOT a tangible home with extended hours, a more robust menu and seating, the restaurant’s core concept is mostly the same. Salads, grain bowls, and house-made dressings will continue to be BLUEROOT’s bread and butter, and this location’s expanded menu runs the gamut from vegan options to proteins sourced from locally owned and operated butchers such as Evans Meats.
The flagship’s biggest difference: patrons will be able to watch as the BLUEROOT team assembles the bowls behind the counter.
The ordering process is simple: Guests can choose a salad or grain bowl, then add proteins or toppings.
BLUEROOT’s opening Pepper Place menu features a selection of six grain bowls, ranging from $10.50 to $13 and six salads, from $9.50 to $12.50.
Salad options include the Farmstand– a mix of spinach and seasonal roast vegetables topped with swiss cheese, spiced pecans, radish, and creamy dill dressing. Grain bowls include the Santa Fe (grilled pork with spring mix, quinoa, black beans and spiced sweet potatoes, served with roasted cherry tomatoes, radish, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and chipotle vinaigrette) and the Green God (a base of grilled chicken, spinach, forbidden rice and broccoli topped with edamame, radish, pistachios, hemp hearts, and Green Goddess dressing.)
For $9.50, patrons can also build their own custom salads or grain bowls with a base of greens or grains, three standard toppings and one premium topping.
Patrons can add a range of proteins for an additional cost. On the low end, a soft-boiled egg is $1.50. Lemon-herb or spicy-smoky chicken is $3.50, and maple-cured salmon is $6. Vegetarian toppings, such as standard fruits and vegetables are $.50, and premium fruits, cheeses, and specialty items are $1.
Also on the menu: a selection of “quick bites” such as seasonal soups, selections of proteins and seasonal vegetables, and humus.
BLUEROOT at Pepper Place will also offer a small menu of mostly locally owned beverages, including kombucha from Harvest Roots and Better Kombacha.
While patrons can enjoy their orders in-house, Ryan expects a significant portion of the flagship’s business to come from to-go orders. A lot of BLUEROOT’s consumer base, she says, were looking forward to having quick, easy options, especially for lunch. Guests will also have the option to place their orders online.
BLUEROOT will be open from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The restaurant will also host special hours on Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., in conjunction with the Market at Pepper Place. BLUEROOT will offer a special menu on Saturday mornings, in addition to its quick breakfast bites such as chia seed pudding and granola. While Ryan isn’t giving out the secrets to the Saturday A.M. menu just yet, she did offer some hints: eggs and toast.