Eating healthy has always been a priority for Carmela Wootan, a mother and wife who also serves in the U.S. Army. While overseas in Korea, she frequented a salad bar to fill up on the nutrients needed to fuel her active lifestyle. When she came back home after a year of deployment, she realized there weren’t many healthy food options available in Colorado Springs and missed having a quick but healthy place to eat.
Carmela is no stranger to starting and running a franchise – she opened a Smoothie King in 2011 in Colorado Springs – but she wanted to provide her community something more, something different.
After some research, Carmela and her cousin, Nakoma Pratt (who is active duty Air Force and a fitness enthusiast), decided to bring a new healthy fast-casual dining option to their neighborhood. Their franchise, Saladworks, opened in April 2019 and is the first Saladworks to open in Colorado.
To get their franchise up and running, the cousins needed capital to purchase restaurant equipment. Having heard of Colorado Enterprise Fund in the past, Carmela reached out and was quickly able to obtain a loan from CEF.
Saladworks has been bustling with customers ever since their opening. “I enjoy serving the community… giving them something healthy to eat. I wouldn’t go into business if I wouldn’t want that thing for myself,” Carmela tells.
Cousins Carmela and Nakoma are now looking at opening a second location on base at Fort Carson. “The ‘healthy’ option on base is when you order vegetables as your toppings on a pizza,” Carmela explains with a chuckle.
Giving her community a place where they can fill their tummies with the fresh offerings of Saladworks is reason enough for Carmela to be in this business. What matters to her even more, though, is providing people a place where they can, “walk away feeling happy about their food selection.”
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