Salad restaurant opens in COhatch in downtown Springfield

A Fresh Abilities associate builds a customer’s salad from a wide variety of fresh items Wednesday at COhatch. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
A Fresh Abilities associate builds a customer’s salad from a wide variety of fresh items Wednesday at COhatch. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Fresh Abilities, a quick service salad restaurant, is open in COhatch The Market in downtown Springfield.

“We are proud to finally open Fresh Abilities and serve our hydroponically grown lettuce in fresh salads at the COhatch,” TAC CEO Jim Zahora said. “More importantly, we are excited about the opportunity for people with disabilities to receive training and experience in the food industry to help further their careers in the community.”

The Abilities Connection (TAC) expanded through the restaurant to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities within the food service industry.

“It’s not necessarily about salads, but it’s about Fresh Abilities,” Zahora said. “It’s about people with abilities that are being trained to do things maybe some other people never thought they could do.”

Lettuce for the restaurant is grown and harvested in TAC’s hydroponic greenhouse on its campus on Old Selma Road in Springfield.

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Zahora told the News-Sun in January that the hydroponic greenhouse produced 200 pounds of lettuce a week, year-round, through a six to eight week growing cycle.

Fresh Abilities, inspired by Porttion, a Columbus-based start-up that deliverers healthy prepared meals nationally, serves specialty salads, build-your-own salads, soups and smoothies - while employing and training people with disabilities.

“The concept is first of its kind nationally,” COhatch’s Growth Manager Tania Lehotay said.

Specialty salads include the Amazin’ Asian, the Springfield Legend, Alexander’s Great Greek Salad, TAC Caesar, and the Champion City Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad.

Fresh Abilities was scheduled to open in March, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, opening plans were delayed.

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The restaurant is doing a soft opening through June 20, Bridget Doane, director of development and donor relations at TAC said. Fresh Abilities’ “Opening Celebration Week” will begin June 22.

Due to restrictions on large gatherings, the restaurant will hold a virtual celebration Monday, June 22 through Friday, June 26 on the restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Doane explained that there will be giveaway drawings for gift cards and merchandise throughout the week with a a Facebook Live ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 26.

Fresh Abilities is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 101 S. Fountain Ave.

Other vendors in COhatch The Market include Cork + Board, Crust & Company, North High Brewing, Ironworks Waffle Cafe, Fresh Abilities, The Painted Pepper and The Market Bar.

For more information, search for Fresh Abilities on Facebook.