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Saving San Antonio: Interview in QSR Magazine

22 Jan

Food Sport Followers and local EZ’s Fans,

Here is some news about the good work that EZ’s Restaurants is engaged in…they’re saddling up to lead the charge on serving real food…fast!

January 17, 2012
INDUSTRY NEWS | January 17, 2012
Saving San Antonio
San Antonio has been named one of America’s fattest cities by the American Obesity Association. And with twice the national incidence of diabetes, there’s plenty to be concerned about.
But the city is starting to buck the trend, with some help from an unlikely hero: the quick-serve industry.
Suzy Monford recently became president of EZ’s Brick Oven & Grill, a fast-casual chain based in San Antonio known for serving high-end dishes and wine by the glass alongside burgers, pizzas, and shakes. Her mission is to switch to healthier ingredients whenever possible.
“The standard American diet is 75–80 percent processed foods, which means it’s been heavily refined,” Monford says. “Folks are obese because they’re not eating clean-label [foods].”
EZ’s rolled out a gluten-free bun for its veggie burgers and artisanal breakfast sandwiches, along with brown rice and whole grain pasta to accompany its entrées. The goal is to get rid of trans fats and GMOs, along with additives like MSG and corn syrup.
There are others joining, too. The Healthy Restaurants Coalition is an organization working to encourage restaurants to offer healthier dishes in the Alamo City.
Kathy Shields, who helped found the organization, says its biggest success to date has been the voluntary menu-labeling program called Pro Vida.
“The criteria that was established sets very specific limits on things like calories, fat, and sodium,” Shields says. “Many restaurants have come on board.”
Monford says her customers at EZ’s appreciate the menu changes, and she’s also making herself available to other restaurateurs to talk about how they can make changes on their own menus.
She says that as more restaurants strive to provide healthier options, sourcing quality ingredients becomes easier for everyone in the area.
“My first meetings with food men, all I heard was ‘no,’” she says. “I know to not accept that no. I’m hoping that other restaurateurs saddle up and begin to work with other food manufacturers and demand the best.”
San Antonio quick serves, Shields says, have a lot of work left to do. Pro Vida works for chains that already have healthy menu items, but Shields says her organization can’t do much for chains that don’t.
“The idea of having to create a new menu item is a little daunting, given that you do have to go through the corporate ladder to be able to do that,” Shields says.
Still, the success of the Pro Vida program shows that even big corporations might be ready to adapt; of the nearly 100 restaurants that have signed up for Pro Vida, the majority are McDonald’s units.
By Robert Lillegard