Former NFL quarterback Nate Hybl and Chick-fil-a vet Ed Howie recently opened Gusto Wood Fire Grill in the Brookwood Village shopping center across from Piedmont Hospital. The healthy fast casual franchise in the making offers choices of chicken, shrimp or portobello mushrooms paired with greens, grains or bread, plus signature Gusto flavor combos.
The look: Brand manager Lindsay Denman helped design the restaurant space, which leads customers through the fast casual ordering experience with logos and signs such as “What’s your gusto?” White walls and simple contemporary decor create an easygoing atmosphere.
The scene: At lunchtime one busy Friday afternoon, Howie was greeting customers at the door and checking on tables, while Hybl was working the line. Around the dining room, groups of workers and shoppers appeared to be enjoying the new addition to the neighborhood.
The food: As a home cook, Hybl developed much of the Gusto menu testing recipes on his Big Green Egg. The three-part ordering process starts with picking a style, such as a bowl of greens or a steamed gyro-style flatbread. Add a wood-grilled protein and finish it with a three-layer “gusto flavor profile” of sauce, vegetables and fruits, and a fresh garnish. Among the choices, chicken and spiced tomato tzatziki gusto ($9.50) or grilled shrimp and chipotle mango avocado gusto ($10.90). Sides include housemade sweet potato chips ($1/free with entree) or a small salad ($2).
The drinks: The concise beverage menu matches the food menu with self-serve fountain drinks ($1.95) and bottled plain, sparkling or flavored waters ($1.25-$2.50).
The extras: Desserts include Honeyhill frozen yogurt ($2.75/$5.50) and chocolate chip or lemon butter cookies ($1.95). On the carry-out menu, find chicken salad or wood-grilled chicken by the pint ($7.50). On the kids menu, there’s a flatbread grilled cheese with sweet potato chips and a drink ($5.75).