This article was originally published on

Newk’s has just opened its first shop in the University Town Center mall area offering fresh-fast-casual fare at a $7 – $9 price point. Similar to Crisper’s but more upscale, you order from a main terminal and are served and bussed from there.

What makes Newk’s different, I believe, is its commitment to all things fresh and its flavors are truly upscale and inspiring.

According to Dave Baker, Director of Operations, “Chris Newcomb (Co-founder and CEO) has a sophisticated palette. He’s devised and created and refined all of our recipes.”

Mr. Newcomb’s statement says it all:
“We live for the tantalizing smells, sights, tastes and textures of meals that are made to perfection. We are obsessed with discovering new recipes and re-imagining old favorites – especially our Newcomb Family Recipes. We insist on sourcing the finest ingredients. Nothing is pre-chopped, pre-sliced or pre-packaged…”

I had the chicken salad on the 11-grain bun and I was really surprised at the flavor of the chicken salad and can say it was the best I’d tasted. The bun was crispy and delicious as well, but I could have easily had another two rounds of just the salad.

The five-cheese mac ‘n cheese wasn’t as flavorful, but still creamy and clearly homemade. I sampled each soup – prepared in Newk’s central kitchen for consistency – and each was as good as the next. Signature soups like broccoli cheese, tomato basil, seafood bisque and more are changed daily and according to season and each has a special flavoring that Newk’s prides itself in.

The menu features a wide range of specialty toasted sandwiches, kettle soups, freshly-tossed salads, artisian pizzas and even macaroni and cheese. All dressings and sauces are made from scratch. Desserts vary by the day but include cookies, krispies and cakes.

The ambiance is bright and cheery and clean, with an open kitchen so you even observe your order being made if you wish. A signature round table adds a flair of different and features bread sticks, homemade croutons, roasted garlic, pickles and sauces.

I’m impressed with both the recipes, spices, and upbeat, friendly environment of this new alternative to fast food. You can even grab and go from their cooler carrying sandwiches and salads. I think Mr. Newcomb has a home run here, with the added advantage of being located in a high-traffic area.

This is a fresh take on fast food folks, so if you’re shopping ‘til you drop in the myriad shops at the mall and its perimeter, be sure to stop in to Newk’s at 5405 University Parkway in the UTC Square Shopping Center west of the mall by Home Depot (the original press release said it was at the mall, so don’t get confused). You’ll be healthily sustained and ready to go back for more shopping.

Newk’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 941-351-1210 for more information.