New local delivery service bringing creative healthy salads from your Instagram to your doorstep

Top Knot Kitchen’s salads change weekly, and can be inspired by the seasons. CONTRIBUTED

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Top Knot Kitchen’s salads change weekly, and can be inspired by the seasons. CONTRIBUTED

The traditional grocery store business model is getting disrupted.

As consumers are increasingly time-starved, they have turned to options like online grocery delivery and meal planning and subscription services.

Across the country, businesses are trying to find ways to make food more convenient and looking for ways to further monetize themselves as they make updates and launch new programs.

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One local business is a terrific example of this trend, striking the right tone between convenience, flavor and innovation.

Whitney Kling, 36, is the owner and "Head Salad Slinger" for Top Knot Kitchen — a local online service delivering healthy salads to homes and businesses looking for something tasty, convenient and affordable.

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“I have been brainstorming different versions of a food business for 10 years. Nothing ever felt quite right and certain things always prevented me from diving right in, until one of my best friend’s 40th birthday week. In an effort to eat a balanced diet for the weeks leading up to her birthday, she proposed to pay me for a couple weeks of salads, having tasted many of my creations throughout years of neighborhood gatherings and dinner parties,” said Kling. “I agreed. A handful of friends heard about the service and wanted to jump on board. At the end of two weeks, I had about five die-hard fans and customers who all suggested I offer it to the public. Not knowing what I may find, I posted the offer on Instagram. Within a couple hours, I had about 21 customers for my first delivery. We are now in our 24th week, and we are serving over 120 customers in the Kettering, Oakwood, and Dayton area.”

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Whitney Kling of Top Knot Kitchen creates a new salad each week. CONTRIBUTED

Whitney Kling of Top Knot Kitchen creates a new salad each week. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Whitney Kling of Top Knot Kitchen creates a new salad each week. CONTRIBUTED

Currently her entire business is run on Instagram. She is currently working on launching a website that will offer an ordering platform.

The salads change weekly. Many times they are inspired by the seasons, other times they are inspired by a sauce or dressing she’s created or a special vegetable preparation. Customers can request dietary restrictions, but aside from that, Kling creates one Tuesday salad for anyone who puts in an order. You don’t know what you are getting before you open that box. Kling says there are a couple core salads that she brings back every few months because people “literally beg for them.”

Examples of some of her salads show the creativity she has built her business and clientele on:

THE SALADS

• Crispy Romaine with turmeric roasted chick peas, lemony quinoa, pomegranate seeds, roasted sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, shaved and roasted Brussels sprouts with toasted almonds and Tahini green chile dressing.

• Spring greens with blanched green beans, radishes, tangy lentils, roasted salmon, sugar snap peas, feta, tomatoes with toasted almonds and hemp seeds and basil vinaigrette

• Crispy Romaine with carrots, green onions, shrimp, snap peas, cucumbers, sushi rice, with sesame seeds and crispy seaweed and carrot miso dressing

• Crispy Romaine with shredded red cabbage, jerk chicken, coconut brown rice, black beans, pineapple, cucumber, with pepitas and avocado cilantro dressing

• Arugula with sunflower shoots, peaches, quinoa, fresh mozzarella, roasted chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, with sunflower seeds and basil vinaigrette

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“My service is at the intersection between convenience, crave-able, and balanced. I saw glaringly obvious gaps in the delivery options in Dayton. Even with the upswing of DoorDash and such services, I don’t think there’s an adequate option for people who want a restaurant-quality salad that’s fresh and filling and doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish after eating it. People that are interested in great ingredients and combinations prepared in innovative ways,” said Kling. “At TKK, you place an order (either weekly or subscription style) and get a beautiful box of fresh filling food delivered to your home or work for with lunch or dinner. It’s nothing short of magical.”

Kling says that to make a great salad, you have to hit all the notes, just like in traditional cooking. There has to be texture and crunch and something cooked and satisfying with a special dressing to finish things off.

“There should be a new name for salads. They’ve gotten such a bad rap over the low-fat 90s and the low-carb 2000s. I never want my salads to be thought of as diet food or any sort of deprivation. I want people to want to eat them and I’m achieving that. For $12, my customers get a 96-ounce Kraft paper box filled with greens, prepared and raw vegetables, protein, sometimes a complex grain, often legumes, a small wax envelope of crunchy toppings, and a 4-ounce container of handcrafted dressing,” said Kling. “Many of my customers report that they get two meals from every salad — that is, if they can stop eating it the first time around. The delivery is included in the price of the salad.”

Kling tries as often as possible to incorporate some ingredients from local farms. She will accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies and makes vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free salads.

“We never want eating one of our salads to feel restrictive or like a chore. It should be a treat. We are currently working on a line of soup, smoothies, and energy bites to be added to salad orders. We always want salads to be our flagship item, but there is much more coming,” said Kling. “Also, pick-up is in the near future. We’re so excited to grow and change in an effort to respond to all of our customers’ needs.”

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How to order from Top Knot Kitchen

Top Knot Kitchen currently sells via direct messaging on Instagram. Orders must be placed by midnight on Sunday to get Tuesday delivery. There’s also a subscription option where you get a salad every Tuesday without having to send a message. The company is hoping to transition from Instagram to a website within the next month. There are two delivery windows to receive your salad(s) — 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Customers can ask questions and place orders via Instagram messaging @topknotkitchn

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