By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
As a co-owner of Salad Nation Arizona, Omar Solorzano is trying to change the world.
He uses sustainable packaging for Salad Nation Arizona’s items, and he’s hoping to change the negative image of fast food being unhealthy and unappetizing.
“It’s my mother, father, and I… well, basically my whole family, we all work at the restaurant,” he says.
“We put in all the effort to build it to where it is now. But it’s just one root to the tree we want to create. We want to create more opportunities for the community.”
Located in Park Place Mall, Salad Nation Arizona is known for its house-made dressings, use of fat-free oil, and premium chicken breast.
“We make something that really is healthy, tastes good, and is positive for the community,” says Solorzano, who one day hopes to start a Salad Nation Sea Life Fund to help clean up the oceans.
But the menu doesn’t start and stop at only salads. Salad Nation Arizona serves premium burgers; chicken sandwiches; crispy chicken tenders; paninis (three-cheese panini, chopped chipotle panini, and The Salad Nation panini); wraps (jalapeno ranch wrap with lemon pepper chicken, chipotle Buffalo wrap and Caesar salad wrap); and soups (tortilla soup, Caldo de queso and Mexican noodle soup).
“The other tenants question how we get our tenders so juicy,” Solorzano says with a laugh. “They’re still baffled by it. But we also get a lot of compliments on our soup, especially the Caldo de queso.”
Solorzano’s Mexican heritage inspires the dishes served. His father, Omar Sr., was hails from Mexico, and his mom’s roots are in the country. Solorzano, 25, was born in the United States and graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School in Oro Valley. He attended the UA to follow in the footsteps of his mother, Yara Solorzano, also a proud Wildcat.
“Our inspiration truly comes from our Hispanic roots,” he says.
Salad Nation Arizona is one of Solorzano’s first business ventures. He chalked up his success to his parents and good friend Joon An, all of whom are business partners. The community counts, too.
“We’ve been making friends with the community, and the love and support we have received in return is why we do it. I know we’re small, but our actions are something. Eventually, it will be a lot. We’re the underdog trying to do as much as we can for the community and the environment.”
Salad Nation Arizona
5870 E. Broadway Boulevard
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays,
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays