February 2, 2012 Green Zebra restaurant coming to the Whitney Center on Rowan Boulevard
Article by: Jessica Driscoll, Gloucester County Times
A local couple, born and raised in the borough, will be the next business owners to join Rowan Boulevard’s Whitney Center with their healthy salad and wrap restaurant, Green Zebra.
“First and foremost, my wife and I wanted to work together, open a business together,” said Corey Gardner-Meeks, co-owner of Green Zebra along with his wife Jennifer. “We’re both very healthy with our diets, in fact we’re both vegetarian, so we’re very food-conscious. We’ve been learning more and more about food without artificial preservatives, grown locally when possible, that doesn’t take a lot of fossil fuel to get to you. With that focus in our lives, we had no choice but to open something a little healthier.”
Gardner-Meeks said the restaurant will not be vegetarian, though those options will be available.
“We’ll have chicken, shrimp and tuna,” he said. “Our focus is on having healthy, flavorful ingredients that are local, when available.”
Green Zebra will be a quick-service restaurant with pre-designed options for salads and wraps as well as customizable orders.
“We’ll also have soup, which will all be homemade, using local ingredients as much as possible,” he said.
Andrew Erace of Live Work Learn Play — the international real estate advisory and development firm Rowan Boulevard redevelopers are working with to design ideal retail environments — said Green Zebra fits perfectly along the Boulevard for several reasons.
“Not only is the restaurant offering a healthy dining option that is approachable for every kind of person, they are doing so in a very organic and current way,” said Erace. “By connecting with local farmers and purveyors, Green Zebra is working to take the salad shop to the next level, incorporating an element of seasonality to their menu as much as possible. Green Zebra will use recycled materials and be a compostable dining establishment. They will be the only restaurant in New Jersey to serve Oogave all-natural soft drinks, which are sweetened with agave nectar instead of refined sugar. And most importantly, the owners, Corey and Jennifer, are a part of the local Glassboro community, passionate about a healthy lifestyle that they want to pass onto others.”
Erace said, when assessing businesses for Rowan Boulevard, Live Work Learn Play takes the time to get to know the operators, working with them to build their concept to ensure that destination establishments are being created.
“Our goal is not to mirror what you see in every strip center in South Jersey,” said Erace. “We are forming a new downtown for the people of Glassboro and the community of Rowan. It needs to be special. And that is why we think Green Zebra will be a huge success. With the level of passion, care and uniqueness that Corey and Jennifer will institute into Green Zebra, we expect it to take off from the day they open.”
Gardner-Meeks said he and Jennifer signed the lease Thursday, and they hope to be open by the end of April or beginning of May.
“This is something new to both of us — food service,” he said. “I worked at Joe’s Sub Shop here in Glassboro in high school, and my wife has her bartending license, but that’s about as far as it goes. I was in the Coast Guard Academy and spent six years in active duty and almost three in the reserves. My wife has her master’s in deaf education and elementary education and worked here in the district.”
Despite the novelty of the business, Gardner-Meeks is confident Green Zebra will do well on Rowan Boulevard.
“I think eating healthy is becoming more important to a lot of people, especially with young kids in college trying to work out and stay healthy and Glassboro residents being so close to a great amount of locally-grown produce in this area without options out there to get it,” he said. “And for us, we were both raised here and went all the way through the schools here. We love our town, and especially when we found out about the Rowan Boulevard project, we thought it would be a great business opportunity. We want to provide a healthy eating establishment for our friends and family and everyone else that lives here.”