“Top Chef” judge and James Beard Award winner Tom Colicchio opened the first unit of his new restaurant Root & Sprig in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. The fast-casual concept aims to refresh the food in healthcare spaces as a new café option for workers and families.
Root & Sprig is a café concept offering elevated food to patients and visitors inside hospital settings while also offering nutritious food to the healthcare workers who gained new respect in 2020.
The concept is “committed to elevating the role that food, hospitality and improved consumer experiences have in the healthcare space,” according to a company bio. But it’s not aiming to replace hospital food as a foodservice provider.
Of the fast-casual format, Colicchio told The Washington Post, “The operations are very, very different. The staff is different. Motivating the staff is very different, the way you have to source food and the way you prep things. It’s a very different animal even though it’s all food service.”
Operating similarly to a grab-and-go environment, Root & Sprig is not equipped to cook meals to order unless it’s toast or eggs, which are made on either an electric burner or a conveyer for toasting. Most of the food items are refrigerated and prepackaged, cooked off-premises.
The menu offers mostly vegetarian breakfast and lunch options, including the Morning Glory — cage-free egg, white cheddar cheese, pickled cherry peppers, roasted red peppers, arugula, spicy aioli, lemon vinaigrette on English muffin; the Country Bowl — cage-free egg, fingerling potatoes, arugula, pickled red onions, avocado, green goodness dressing; and the Toasted Elvis — toast with Peanut Butter, sliced banana. Soups and salad are also available, including the Tomato Basil Bisque and the Tofu Twist Salad — sesame ginger marinated tofu, avocado, romaine, shredded veggies, sliced red onion, carrot ginger dressing.
For meat-eaters, there’s the Spicy Pork Sandwich — pork loin, pickled red onion, arugula, red cabbage, green goodness, spicy aioli on toasted ciabatta; and the Soy Joy plate — grilled chicken, Teriyaki glaze, quinoa, charred broccoli, roasted red peppers and black sesame seeds.
A kids menu is also available.
Root & Sprig’s first location is located at the Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus in Washington D.C. Two more are set to debut in Philadelphia and Denver in Fall 2021.
“We were originally going to put ’Wichcraft in there, but we decided to do something new for the hospitals,” Colicchio said in an interview with The Washington Post, referring to another concept he co-founded in 2003. “My [former] ops team from ’Wichcraft, those are the ones who are running it and working on it.”
‘Witchcraft currently has one location.
The executive team at Root & Sprig is led by co-founder and CEO Dan Guaricci, who was previously the president of ‘Witchcraft. Prior to that, Guaricci held roles at Baked by Melissa and Pret A Manger.
Colicchio told the Washington Post there are 19 more locations in the pipeline.