TRAVERSE CITY — The second episode of the sixth season of “Seinfeld” was titled and focused on “The Big Salad.”

A new franchise with the same name is coming to downtown Traverse City this summer.

A July opening is targeted for The Big Salad at 332 E. Front St. The restaurant will be adjacent to Zips Harley-Davidson Traverse City, which is scheduled to open in late May at 330 E. Front St., in the other half of the building that was the former home of Yen Yoga and Fitness.

Big Salad, LLC founder and president John Bornoty said he’s been targeting downtown Traverse City for the last year and a half as the site of his 11th franchise.

“We’re very excited to be coming to Traverse City,” Bornoty said. “We’ve been eyeing Traverse City for a long time. Great real estate on Front Street is hard to find.”

Bornoty credited Realtor Dan Stiebel, associate broker at Coldwell Banker Commercial, with getting the lease deal in place. Stiebel is the manager of Sunny Oak Holdings, LLC, which owns the building.

A spot on Front Street was non-negotiable for Bornoty.

“We knew our first location Up North and our first location in Traverse City was going to be on Front Street,” Bornoty said. “We were not going to waver from that.”

Franchisees Nathan Blessing and Ben Jackson are committed to opening two more stores in northern Michigan. Blessing said the franchisees want to open two other locations in northern Michigan over the next three years, one of which may be in Big Rapids.

“We’re looking at this store to see where we should be going up there,” Bornoty said.

Blessing said he got a taste of The Big Salad while working as an auditor with the U.S. Defense Department in the Detroit area.

“I’d go there, read the paper and get a salad,” Blessing recalled. “I said, ‘This place would be fantastic in Traverse City if I ever had the opportunity to get back up there.’”

Blessing said he and Jackson both have backgrounds in business: Blessing in auditing, Jackson with parts and service departments at auto dealerships.

“It’s been a life-long dream for both of us,” Blessing said. “We met, we thought it would be a good partnership and we were very fortunate to be awarded a franchise by Mr. Bornoty.”

Blessing said the business partners are excited to open the Traverse City restaurant and “be part of the community.” Blessing expects to employ 12 to 15 full- and part-time employees.

Bornoty said the Traverse City location will feature outdoor seating as well as walk-in and pick-up options.

“We have lots of things we’re working on just to cater to pedestrian traffic in downtown Traverse City,” he said.

The menu at The Big Salad features 12 salads, six sandwiches and wraps, and five soups. I also includes six signature smoothies, and chocolate chip cookies baked each day with Hershey’s Kisses. Bornoty said the focus is on “high-quality food with no preservatives.”

“Everything is made fresh in the store daily,” he said. “Even the dressings are made fresh each day in the store.”

There also will be a build-your-own salad option that claims to offer “17 million ways to customize your salad or wrap,” thanks to the different toppings available.

“My wife is a high school math teacher,” Bornoty said with a laugh. “She’s done the math on this one.”

Bornoty formed Bornoty Holdings in January 2005 and launched The Big Salad, LLC in 2007. The first restaurant opened in Grosse Pointe in September 2008.

There are nine The Big Salads in Michigan and one in Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Bornoty said two more locations soon will open, in downtown Detroit and Novi.

Most of the current locations are in the Detroit area. The current location of The Big Salad closest to Traverse City is in Charlotte.

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