By Erin Middleton
Nestled in a stucco shopping center on San Fernando Boulevard is a new, fresh restaurant: Chop Stop.
The restaurant, which celebrated its ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, January 7, offers a wide variety of chopped salads, which owner Mark Kulkis recognized was a traditional, delicious meal option that was missing from the L.A. food scene.
“I was looking for a good chopped salad and couldn’t really find one in L.A.,” he said. “So I went home, made my own and came up with the idea to open my own restaurant.”
A newcomer to the restaurant world, Kulkis assembled recipes, using his friends and family as taste testers. He incorporated their comments into his menu, which features 12 salads that vary from the Chop Stop Classic to the BBQ Chop.
But Kulkis insisted that the customer should be allowed to add or remove ingredients to his recipes and bases his menu on the idea that anyone can create any kind of salad he or she chooses.
The premise is simple: choose a green; a dressing; and then any veggies, fruits, meats, beans and cheese you want. (A customer can even add “crunch,” which includes sunflower seeds, tortilla strips and nuts.)
Using set measurements, “chop-makers” combine these ingredients. The result is a perfect melody of complimentary textures and flavors, all combined in one bowl.
Joey Gonzalez, Kulkis’ general manager, shares Kulkis’ passion for providing fresh, delicious meals. Like Kulkis, he also recognized the need for such a restaurant.
“To me, this is an untapped market in the restaurant business,” Gonzalez said.
A primary goal for Gonzalez was to make sure customers didn’t wait longer than three minutes for their food.
“The production line is very specific, very streamlined, so that our customers can get their food as fast as possible,” he said.
Gonzalez recognized the restaurant as not just a trend, but a serious addition to the food culture in Southern California.
“I told Mark when he hired me, ‘If I don’t take the job I’m going to kick myself because there’s eventually going to be a Chop Stop on every corner.”
Chop Stop is located at 1001 N. San Fernando Blvd. in Burbank. For more information, call (818) 846-3560 or visit www.chopstop.com.