SLA (Westerstraat) in Amsterdam, Netherlands provides an intentional dose of health and well-being.  Stopping by a SLA location is always a pleasure.

Rise Rating: 80%

The Obsidian Rise diagram above provides a visual for the rating explained in writing, below.  From left to right—

Story (3/3): The SLA Story is portrayed very simply and effectively, through a variety of channels.  For starters, the word ‘sla’ means ‘lettuce’ in Dutch.  As SLA is essentially a salad bar, its purpose is clear from the beginning.  From there, its printed meal accessories (think napkins, to-go bowls and bags, etc.) recite similarly poignant slogans such as the, “Eat green, think green” one pictured above, including messages of sustainability and consciousness along with the dining experience.  Online, the written explanation of SLA’s foundation ties it all together: a family found strength through a sound diet, and opened its doors in 2013 to share the lesson that it learned with other busy individuals.  Now with over one dozen locations in Amsterdam alone and a clear expansion throughout the Netherlands, its mission-driven business seems to be doing better than ever.  And, when coupled with its community-based collaborations, cookbooks and lifestyle design elements, the goodness really does feel far-reaching.

Sustainability (3/3): As Sustainability is built in to the purpose of this business and the work that SLA’s owners have done is outwardly apparent, the chain of eateries should receive a full (3/3) rating for this sector.  For instance, the ingredients used in SLA’s dishes are in large part local and organic.  Menus change seasonally, and specific items from Dutch farms are exalted where appropriate.  Then, the products’ packaging for take away customers is made from recycled or compostable materials where possible, and in-house eaters get to collect their own cutlery and water from a communal jug, as needed.  As at Westerstraat, SLA locations are plant-filled and usually with a lot of day-lighting.  Servers wear sustainable uniforms, made in collaboration with ARMEDANGELS, just one of the many like-minded partners that SLA supports.

Experience (2/3): With such a wholesome mission and vision, it’s hard not to feel healthy when entering and exiting a SLA store.  The vibes are decidedly hipster for their trendy designs and youthful SLA-makers, but in a way that aims to give way to greater positivity, and who can argue with that?  With relaxed ambiences, clients are welcome to stake out a spot to eat in and to roam around a bit before ordering.  Beware only of the potentially long lines at typical meal times or on warmer days, as well as the missing ingredients that may go along with them.

Cuisine (2/3): The thing that’s great about SLA (beyond all of its immunity-building and world-saving), is that the business manages to produce recipes that are special enough to entice one to try them all, without the guilt associated with frequent visits.  At SLA, there’s no feeling of, “I could’ve just made this at home,” as is common with so many of the other salad chains that are sprouting up at the moment.  The ingredients that make up its offerings are almost all value-added.  Picture unique curries and hummus varieties, roasted and steamed veggies rather than just raw, and healthy dressings with so many elements that there’s no way that one would’ve spent the time and energy to gather and prepare them all.  Beyond salads, SLA has also made a strong venture into bowls and always has seasonal soups with locally baked bread on hand (note: the dense, whole wheat sourdough option hits the spot every time).  Not to forget are the freshly made juices and raw, vegan tarts.  It’s always a good idea to grab some additional supplies before heading back out onto city streets.

Why only the 2/3?  For SLA, there’s still room for improvement in menu expansion (breakfast options seem to have come and gone), boundary-pushing (how about introducing a new super food once per month?) and also in the quality and variety of its animal protein-based toppings.  The same goes for its desserts, which are few to choose from and in spite of seasonal changes, seem to come back year after year.

Diversity (2/3): SLA is strong in its Diversity but could also build upon this sector.  For instance, its three founders are male and female, as are the salad makers.  However, racial and age-based diversity seem limited, especially in a city of so many nationalities and with so many Dutch people of varying backgrounds present.  A few more seasoned managers on site at the most popular spots or at high-traffic hours would also help with the experience of moving customers through quickly and in managing guests’ expectations.  And, food-wise, even within its current salad-bowl-soup offerings, SLA could get more creative with its ethnic options, which often stop at one Hispanic dish and one or two Asian ones per season.


For more information regarding this rating methodology, please click here.