Kelly Schaefer-Janssen put aside the culinary world to become an events planner in 2002 after deciding that the life of a chef was not conducive to raising a family. She was married with children, and just couldn’t justify the long hours in the kitchen away from them.
But with her education from the French Culinary Institute and experience in high-end restaurants such as the Galley in Nantucket, Massachusetts, it was almost inevitable that she would come back to it.
And Schaefer-Janssen did in 2010, when her mother’s death was the catalyst that convinced her to return to her first love. This time, however, it would not be in someone else’s restaurant, but as the creator of her own concept, which she calls a “lifestyle brand, healthy from-scratch cooking, the whole kit and caboodle.”
The result is 7 Greens, a fast-casual restaurant that emphasizes farm-fresh ingredients and avoids additives. Perhaps surprisingly, the salad ingredients also include chicken, turkey, prosciutto, shrimp, and tuna. The titular seven greens: romaine, spinach, arugula, Napa cabbage, kale, mixed greens, and iceberg. Yes, the sometimes-maligned iceberg is one of the chosen greens.
In addition to create-your-own combos, 7 Greens offers 14 “composed salads” such as the Detroit Greek and the Wok it to Me, an Asian influenced mix. And could it be that the Dan-Dan (romaine, mixed greens, pepitas, crumbled blue cheese, green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, and dried Michigan cherries) is named after a certain rather famous downtown businessman?
In addition to salads, a monthly changing soup is available, and comes with the only “imported” items, Zingerman’s hearty dinkelbrot bread.
The original 7 Greens will celebrate its third anniversary this fall on the first floor of the Z-Garage at 1222 Library St. in downtown Detroit. The second, at 344 Hamilton Row in Birmingham, Schaefer-Janssen’s hometown, was just getting rolling when a fire on the second floor of the building shut it down.
She was just getting to know the customers who came in for soups and salads when the project had to be put on hold. And knowing the patrons is part of the 7 Greens plan. Schaefer-Janssen believes that to be successful, a business has to fit the community it is in. She demonstrates that she does indeed know the patrons when, sitting at one of the barnwood-topped tables in the downtown location, she greets by name many of the lunchers entering the high-ceilinged space while chatting with a visitor.
Schaefer-Janssen’s portfolio is not complete, however. She and her two partners plan to add more outposts of the lifestyle brand in the near future, with Ann Arbor a possibility.