Chef & Owner Spotlight – Steve Woodward at b.good

Steve Woodward, owner of b.good in North Hills, has been serving up “real food fast” since October 23, 2014.  Steve considers himself to be a novice in the kitchen, but was drawn to the concept of b.good by his passion and love of great food, people, and people who are bound to the idea that food serves a greater purpose than just being food.  Steve elaborates to include he is “happy and excited to have an establishment that can give people an affordable alternative without having them compromise their dietary commitments.”

Steve’s food philosophy is very similar to b.good’s in more ways than one, which is why he chose to open a b.good in North Hills.  He believes “the concept would do well in this area because people believe how they live and where food comes from is important and valuable.”  He was drawn to opening a b.good because he was hooked on the idea that this company had a great story with a strong sense of authenticity and commitment to creating quality food in a fast casual environment.

Steve Woodward - b.good

Steve Woodward – b.good

b.good was originally founded by two childhood friends from Boston in search of creating “real food fast.”  This group of fast casual restaurants focuses on giving customers healthy alternatives at an affordable price while still maintaining the integrity and quality of ingredients.  To name just a few things b.good does to uphold their company standards, all burgers are ground in house, an “active” display case of vegetables are displayed until they are needed and prepared for the serving line, and fries are cut every morning.  Their menu ebbs and flows with the seasons and accommodates for local and regional preferences and availability.

b.good is unlike any other quick service establishment in that each location works and develops relationships with local purveyors.  The North Hills location gets their buns from The Bread Shop in Pittsboro, ice cream and milk from Maple View Farm from Hillsborough, seasonal produce from Vollmer Farm in Bunn, 100% grass-fed beef from Harris-Robinette in Pinetops, chicken from Prestige Farms in Raleigh, eggs from Carolina Egg Co. in Nashville, sweet potatoes from Burch Farms in Faison and lastly, cheese from Ashe County Cheese from West Jefferson.  This doesn’t even touch the numerous other produce items that rotate with the seasons from other North Carolina based producers.  This list of farms is impressive enough for any restaurant in the area, let alone in a fast casual environment.

Steve’s right hand man, Matt Westcott, handles the day to day operations of making sure the kitchen runs smoothly and staff is making items according to their standards.  This includes daily huddles with staff to ensure everyone’s on the same page and assess if there may be a need for additional education or training on how to make a certain item.

Burger and sandwich options include grass-fed beef, turkey, veggie or grilled chicken.  The beef is ground in-house every morning and patties are hand formed.  The veggie burgers are comprised of a proprietary mix developed by Chef Tony, one of the founders of b.good.  The veggie burgers are also hand formed every morning on site.  Steve goes on to say this b.good location was the first to put a few regional items on the menu including pimento cheese and sweet tea.

The kale and grain bowls are a hit at b.good, with many ways to customize and “power up” the items with various protein options.  From eggs to tofu to a burger, the options are endless.  With the popularity of kale salads and their healthy renditions, b.good’s kale undergoes a marinating process before being served up in their bowls.  In the words of Chef Tony, they do it so they can “enjoy eating, not endure it.”

Contrasting shakes and smoothies both find a home on b.good’s menu.  The luscious ice creams from Maple View Farm are blended up to make either a traditionally delicious vanilla or chocolate milkshake.  There are 4 varieties of smoothies that rotate with the seasons depending on what produce is available.  The smoothies are made with either almond milk or greek yogurt.  With food allergies and dietary restrictions being so prevalent, particularly in a health-conscious establishment, Steve went on to say there are strict glove changing and sanitation procedures in place for when someone orders a food that needs to meet a dietary restriction.  They also have a “look book” at the front counter of every b.good location.  This book breaks down the nutrition facts for every item on the menu including ingredients.  Steve says this has been incredibly beneficial for customers to be able to see the level of transparency they offer so that customers can enjoy a meal, regardless of any dietary limitations.

b.good does not look like any other fast casual restaurant I’ve been in.  The walls are tastefully decorated with pictures of the actual farmers who grow and bring the product into b.good North Hills.  There’s a map of North Carolina with the farms listed and products they receive from them.  If you venture down to the drink area, there are pictures on the walls that include local Triangle customers who have become loyal to the concept and philosophy of b.good.  As Steve explains, “we all have an overarching theme of being true to the philosophy behind b.good, but our location has achieved a sense of autonomy because our menu features regional items along with celebrating the farmers and purveyors here in North Carolina.”

Steve, Matt and the entire b.good team are more than excited to share their passion for fresh and local food with those in North Hills and everyone in the Triangle area.  With their second location slated to open in the spring off Fayetteville Street, there are only continued positive waves of growth in the future for b.good.

Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @ChefTessaRD.

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