Updated July 18, 4:33 p.m. Real Food Eatery's address is actually 207 South 16th Street, not 1528 Walnut Street.
It's fast-casual, through and through," says Mike Mangold, who, with his business partner John Colasante, is opening Real Food Eatery at 1528 Walnut Street (strangely, the store is actually on 16th Street), previously the soft-serve ice cream parlor, Lite Choice.
Lifelong friends from Camden Catholic High School, Mangold and Colasante are incorporating their affinity for health and wellness into their professional lives, though both come from non-restaurant backgrounds. Mangold owns and operates his own South Jersey landscaping business, while Colasante comes to the Philly food scene with a tech background. "We worked long hours, unable to find healthy, satisfying, affordable food on-the-go. So we decided we should scratch our own itch."
That's not to say "healthy fast-casual" doesn't exist around these parts; just in its five-block radius alone exists a handful of wholesome eateries like Honeygrow, Sweetgreen, Hai Street, Farmer's Keep, and HipCityVeg. Real Food Eatery's version will be a slight variation:
Choose between a salad or a "Real Plate" — basically a composed meal with two sides. If it's a salad, select which kind, your choices range from a mixed berry salad to a veggie bowl, bibimbap-style. Top it with your choice of protein and dressing. If it's a Real Plate, pick a base, green (sautéed spinach, braised kale and the like) or grain, choose between herb-roasted chicken thighs, grass-fed skirt steak, slow-cooked pork shoulder, basil-walnut pesto salmon, or roasted portobello mushroom (all seared to order), and finish your plate with two sides, cold or hot. "Cold sides" include a variety of salads and hummus; "hot sides" are vegetables and starches in all their many styles: carrot fries, warm beet salad, cauliflower mash, sautéed greens, or roasted sweet potato. Mangold promises that the kitchen won't use any added sugar or vegetable oil.
The build-out is near completion, so Mangold is looking to open next month, "hopefully mid-July". Check back for updates.