LINCOLN PARK — A young franchisee has plans to open two Freshii fast-casual restaurants in Lincoln Park by the end of March.
The restaurants focus on organic and healthy food in a Chipotle-style system of ordering with salads, wraps, bowls and soups.
"We are really trying to take Lincoln Park by storm," said 26-year-old Alex Blair.
The first Freshii to open up in the neighborhood will be located at 614 W. Diversey Pkwy. around March 15 and the second is set to open at 854 W. Armitage Ave. on March 31 or April 1.
The North Side locations will be the first Freshii restaurants outside the Loop.
Blair, who opened his first franchise location six months ago in Presidential Towers, 555 W. Madison St., said he has been searching for Lincoln Park locations for months.
"I didn't think there was enough healthy eating options," he said. "There were too many fast food places, too many sit down places."
The Armitage location, which is currently under construction, will be located in the former Camelot Children's Kingdom children's clothing shop, and the Diversey location will be in the site of the former Pizza Persona.
"I've been leading the way going north into neighborhoods," Blair said.
He also has a third restaurant under construction at Washington Street and Wabash Avenue.
There are currently 13 Freshii locations in Chicago and about 85 in eight countries around the world.
The fast-growing company has another 150 restaurants under construction worldwide.
"We want to educate the community about healthy eating that doesn't have to be super expensive or flavorless or bland," Blair said. "Healthy eating and raw vegetables and lean meats can be delicious and super good."
Blair moved to Chicago from Wisconsin "to spread the good cheer that is me," and spent his first five years in the city working for Equinox fitness club.
He said his mission was to find a healthy brand that was in the early stages and Freshii met those criteria.
"We've had a lot of people who haven't experienced it," he said, "It's great to find new people who learn to love the brand."