A new green party arrives

With relatively little fanfare, a full-service salad bar run by the growing national franchise Salad Creations has opened on the downtown mall on Fifth Street, around the corner from The Melting Pot. Workers say they're in the middle of a "soft launch," with the four-day grand opening tentatively scheduled for later in January.

Think Subway, but lose the bread and add delicacies and oddities like Gorgonzola cheese and cucumber wasabi dressing. Chunked vegetables and amorphous leafy heaps are combined and eventually pulverized in enormous metal bowls designed to withstand the beating, resulting in a $7 to $12 salad which is large enough to feed a small sauropod. Be warned: this may be lighter fare, but the portions are definitely not for the casual munchies. Luckily, there's also a full complement of soups, smoothies, and other assorted healthy foods to choose from as well.

Risking your cardiovascular health on those addictive Five Guys fries just got that much harder to justify. Brace yourself for the occasional chorus of workers shouting out "thank you!" in unison to a departing customer, though; it's almost startling enough to make you choke on your artichoke hearts.

It'll be interesting to see if the giant self-serve salad bar at nearby Blue Ridge Country Store, which is located right on the Mall, feels any effects.

The new joint's phone number is 434-984-4700.