Know Your Chef... Or Your Line Cook
The Muscle Maker Grill provides a new, healthy hang-out in East Windsor.
The Muscle Maker Grill chain originated in 1995, when Rod Silva decided that there just weren't enough healthy options available in the restaurant business. And he was right. In 2007, Muscle Maker Grill became a franchise, now with over 100 different locations in the country.
With 32 franchises scattered all over New Jersey alone, it may be easy to find one of these anywhere. But the Muscle Maker Grill in East Windsor has something special: the individuality in the kitchen, which is conveniently situated next to Gold's Gym, gives this grill a totally different flavor.
For one thing, Manager Kenny Michaels is also a stand-up comedian, so a sense of humor emulates throughout the restaurant. As a result, you'll find a family feel at the counter.
Cliff Bouder, a customer that comes in at least four times a week, said, “They have the friendliest staff, the healthiest food, most reasonable prices and fastest service.”
Evan Rachbuch, the owner, is at the grill all day, every day, making sure his customers leave stuffed and smiling. “People think healthy food means boring food – food that has no flavor," he said. "We're here to prove them wrong. It's healthy food, with a twist.” He promised that the menu is unlike anything you've ever tasted.
The main line cooks are Chris Sepscick, Jeremy Gennusa and Josh Weber. Weber, originally from Jamesburg, began working at the restaurant in October 2009 as a delivery driver once or twice a week. Now he goes by Assistant Manager, so you can find him cooking up a storm six days a week.
“Once I got here, I realized there was a lot that needed to be done. I keep the food as consistent as possible. Our food has to be above standard,” Weber said. Throughout the workday, this cook tastes each ingredient constantly, making sure everything is just right for his customers. “I get a keen sense of how our food is supposed to taste.”
But the spotlight isn't just on this guy. The emphasis here is on teamwork.
Gianna Marchesi, a member of the group who is attending school for degrees in exercise science and nutrition, said, “This place is better than most. I'll be personal training in a few years, and I will definitely recommend my clients here.”
“I used to run a bagel shop,” said Dan Winegrad, a new cook that joined the team only three weeks ago. “Everything is smooth here, everything is extremely clean, and we have an incredible production line.”
And efficiency is the second-most important goal—after health, of course. Weber and Rachbuch make sure that each order is made in seven minutes or less. “It's a personal goal we set for ourselves. We have the speed of fast-food, but the quality of fine-dining,” Weber said.
Weber said he hopes to get his culinary degree soon to expand his knowledge in the field. Only 24 years old, it seems he's got a future in the business. “This is a job I like doing,” he said.
While the team is happy to mention the other Muscle Maker locations in the Jersey area, it is obvious that this particular location is unlike the others. The individuality of the place shines through as soon as you enter. And while the menu isn't constantly updated, the creative juices are still flowing.
The franchise requires regimented recipes, and all menus for all locations are exactly the same. But the uniqueness of the cooking is what makes all the difference. “It can be hard, but I'm slowly starting to build a creativity aspect. I learn by doing,” Weber said.
Rachbuch said he believes the group may be slightly hindered by falling under the corporation as whole, but not definitively so. “We try to expand,” he said. “You'll find something different here. I promise.”
Whether it's the laughter you'll experience upon entering, or the juicy, guiltless flavor of the menu items, the team is convinced you can't find this ambiance anywhere else.
While Rachbuch stressed, “Yes, everything is fresh and prepared every morning,” he also was sure to say, “Everyone knows everyone that comes in here. It's like the local hangout.”
And it seems he is right. “I've been coming here every day since they've been open," said Andres Garces, a local and a regular. "Everyone is down-to-earth, and they treat me very well. The food is healthy and delicious at the same time. This is rare to find.”
It's important to note that the restaurant is closed on Sundays, but it doesn't mean the cooks stop cooking. Let them know what event you'd like catered, and they'll whip something up for you in a jiffy.
Josh Weber recommends the Cajun chicken penne, but said “The Arizona” is his personal favorite.