Tender Greens opens Downtown, offers fine-casual dining experience

Yoojin Chung/Staff

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Fine-casual restaurant chain Tender Greens opened its Berkeley location Wednesday morning on University Avenue.

The opening began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the restaurant’s first customers included Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. Tender Greens serves “comfort food elevated,” said Christina Wong, a spokesperson for the restaurant. According to Wong, the restaurant offers American classics like steak, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, as well as ample options for vegetarians and vegans.

“The best compliment we ever got was, ‘When I eat at Tender Greens, it’s like coming home — it reminds me of my mom’s cooking,’ ” Wong said. “At the same time … we’re not a build-your-own concept. We have salads and proteins and sandwiches and plates and entrees.”  

Tender Greens allows its chefs to shine by incorporating ingredients typically available at high-end restaurants such as cod and mussels and selling those items for affordable prices, Wong said. The ambiance of Tender Greens is casual, but according to Wong, the quality of the ingredients is equal to those found at high-end restaurants.

“It’s a place that’s quick and easy,” Wong said. “You can come in here and grab something and go, but it’s also nice enough to come for a date or bring your parents to have a great night.”

According to its website, Tender Greens hopes to promote the “Farm to Fork” movement — “real food, real products” is the restaurant’s philosophy, according to Wong. The restaurant chooses farm partners who use all-natural and sustainable production methods.

Tender Greens boasts a large outdoor patio, which will be used for live entertainment, but customers can also order online and skip the line to pick up their food. Additionally, Tender Greens delivers via apps like Postmates and DoorDash, according to Wong.

Tender Greens is located a little more than a block away from Sweetgreen, a salad restaurant that opened last year on Shattuck Avenue. Liam Carter, assistant manager of Sweetgreen, said he does not expect the opening of Tender Greens to affect business at his restaurant. Carter emphasized that Sweetgreen is more fast-paced, while Tender Greens is a sit-down restaurant.

“Fans of Sweetgreen will always be fans of Sweetgreen,” Carter said.

Tender Greens customers said they were pleased to have more options for healthy dining in Berkeley. Claire Little, a Tender Greens customer, said Sweetgreen has more salad options while Tender Greens has more protein options.

“We view it as a win-win for the community because there are better, healthy food choices for everyone,” Wong said in an email. “There’s always room for more delicious food.”

Tender Greens has five locations in the Bay Area including in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Walnut Creek.

Contact Ananya Sreekanth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @asreekanth_dc.