Hoping to eradicate the perceived disconnect between fast- and high-quality food, a Fairfield County-based consortium has embarked on a new concept.
Palmwich Real Food Drive-Thru, which just opened in Darien, is the first of what it hopes will be many healthy fast-food drive-throughs. The store, which features a variety of grilled pockets, soups, salads and more, gives health-conscious diners some new choices for on-the-go meals.
Rey Santos, general manager, is pleased with the response thus far.
"People are very excited to see real food," he said. "It's a better-for-you concept, that people can go in and out and get their real food, real fast."
Myron Harvist, of South Carolina, who was visiting his daughter, Megan, of Norwalk, said Palmwich looks "like a unique place. That's why we stopped for lunch."
The small shop is conveniently located off southbound exit 13 of Interstate 95, at 205 Boston Post Road.
"I'm a fan of it," Megan Harvist, of Norwalk, said of the concept and food itself, noting that the offerings included a cheeseburger, as well as more unusual fare.
All beef and poultry is, according to the menu, "antibiotic/steroid/hormone-free and sustainably raised."
"We have a kitchen here in Greenwich," said Michael Havard, the spokesman for what he described as a small team of Fairfield County entrepreneurs who are behind the venture.
"The basic core idea is sort of challenging this kind of trade-off between whole food and fast," he said.
"It's a small team of about six to eight people," he said, explaining that they prefer that their individual backgrounds in business and food not overshadow details about the new company.
"There are a couple of folks who obviously have industry experience, and passionate foodies. We came up with the menu ideas ourselves as a team. ... It's a small group right here in Fairfield County.
"We look up and down Route 1 and see a lot of the same things other folks do," he said, noting that the idea first began brewing more than a year ago.
"This is our first location in Fairfield County," Havard said. "We're looking to expand to new locations, but for right now we're excited to open in Darien and get feedback and learn more."
Ally Dwyer, of Jersey City, N.J., who is studying nutrition and stopped by to try the place on a whim, said, "I think it's an awesome concept. And it's hard to find something you can drive with," noting that the "palmwich" is perfect for eating behind the wheel.
"It's nice to see a fine, healthy option for on the go," said her friend, Maeve Guidera, of Stonington.
"We're excited by the feedback we've gotten so far," said Havard. "It's been a very enthusiastic response."
"People have been very concerned with where our next location is going to be," Santos said.
"This is kind of our first toe in the water with this idea," Havard said.
Along with giving gluten-free options on its Palmwich pockets, the innovative choices include tuna Nicoise, Sonoma chicken and Mediterranean veggie with goat cheese and pesto. The selection of sides includes quinoa, chick pea and an orzo salad with arugula and pesto.
Palmwich also has soft drinks such as herbal tea, agave lemonade and a fresh-made juice blend called a GreenSqueeze.
"I think the menu is right on," Doug Sokolik, of Darien, said. "It's a good balance of being healthy."
"We feel people are more conscious about what they're consuming," Santos said. "We want to give people the options to make the right choices at a good price."
For information, visit www.palmwich.com.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.