The Southern Fried Chicken Salad (spinach, butter lettuce, cucumber, radish, dill dressing) from Tender Greens. Photo: An Hoang

Almost a year ago, we broke the news that a new location of Tender Greens, a Southern California-based quick-service chain serving healthy “chef-inspired” meals, would be opening in downtown Berkeley. The Berkeley restaurant, the chain’s 24th location, is now getting close. It is slated to open Feb. 15.

Tender Greens will be the third salad-centric restaurant to open in downtown Berkeley. Sweetgreen, a Washington D.C.-based salad chain, opened around the corner at 1890 Shattuck Ave. last spring. Organic Greens opened at 2177 Kittredge St. this fall.

Coming on board to lead the Berkeley location will be executive chef Sean Eastwood, who was previously at the Walnut Creek and Palo Alto locations of Tender Greens. Eastwood has a classic French and Mediterranean culinary background; he has worked at La Folie and Kokkari in San Francisco and opened his own Mediterranean restaurant, Isabella’s, in Chicago.

After being introduced to the Tender Greens concept at an event in San Diego, Eastwood “felt a strong desire to be associated with a team that valued flavor, sustainability, and the passion to provide outstanding food to a greater audience. … It was … the most true and representative of the style of food that I wanted to pursue,” according to the restaurant’s website.

The menu at Tender Greens is based around “Big Plates” and “Big Salads.” Plates include a choice of protein (grilled, humanely-raised meats, fish or falafel), served as a sandwich, a “hot plate” with mashed potatoes, or alongside a simple salad. “Big Salads” are composed entrees, with several options including Chinese Chicken (tatsoi, mizuna, pea sprouts, carrots, wontons, peanuts, cilantro, green onion, sesame dressing) and the Happy Vegan salad trio (farro with cranberries and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beets, tabouleh, hummus, baby greens). In addition, there will be rotating daily specials making use of seasonal ingredients, as well as soups, vegetarian side dishes and a short kid’s menu.

The Harvest Summer salad with a hibiscus drink at Tender Greens. Photo: An Hoang

Berkeley’s Tender Greens includes both a 1,000 square foot indoor dining area and a 1,300 square foot outdoor patio space. It was designed by Berkeley’s Studio KDA, which has now merged with Abueg Morris.

The restaurant will hold a special soft opening event Feb. 14 with 20% of the proceeds generated during lunch and dinner service going to Beyond Emancipation, an organization that provides services for former foster and incarcerated youth. (The Tender Greens Sustainable Life Project, the chain’s 6-month culinary internship for emancipated foster youth, is a frequent partner with Beyond Emancipation.)

See renderings of the restaurant below:

The indoor dining area at Tender Greens Berkeley will feature artwork from Oakland woodworker, Aleksandra Zee. Image: Courtesy of Tender Greens
The outdoor patio at Tender Greens Berkeley will encompass 1,300 square feet. Image: Courtesy of Tender Greens

Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...