Freshens opens, offering healthful entrees and smoothies


The chain offers grilled flatbreads, salads, artisan melts, rice bowls and smoothies, and even vegan options for those with dietary restrictions. Photo: Nathaniel Hendry

The fresh food chain Freshens opened a new franchise in The Den at Bob Jones University today. But what exactly is Freshens? 

Founded in 1985, the Atlanta-based chain’s purpose is to prepare delicious meals with fresher, cleaner ingredients. The chain has no freestanding stores. Instead, Freshens prefer to operate in colleges, airports, hospitals and government buildings. According to the company’s website, it currently serves 350 locations.

Roy Hulehan, the director of ancillary retail operations at BJU, discovered Freshens a few years ago while searching for a new franchise to take Papa Johns’ place in The Den. Aramark, the company that oversees all food services on campus, thought it was redundant to have pizza in The Den and in the dining common. They had also heard that more students wanted healthier dining options as well. Aramark decided to open Growl Pizza at the Davis Field House for the pizza-loving crowd, and to replace Papa Johns with a franchise they had learned about three years earlier. 

While visiting Clemson University in spring of 2020, Hulehan investigated some of the different retail concepts that Clemson offered its students, hoping that one would be an ideal replacement; everything from sushi to barbecue was considered. After testing several options, he made an interesting discovery as he was leaving.

“There was one small franchise that was at a different location at Clemson than the others it was a Freshens,” Hulehan said. He was amazed when he saw what Freshens could offer in a small space: smoothies, rice bowls, flatbreads, sandwiches and salads. And the menu was changeable; items could be switched out periodically for newer offerings. Hulehan was fascinated. 

For for those with dietary restrictions, Freshens also offers vegan options, such as Quorn, a plant-based protein food meant to substitute for meat. 

What can students expect from Freshens? They can expect every item to be custom made when ordered. Hulehan expects the lines will be longer initially, as customers try new items and the workers acclimate to their new environment. “But I think they’re going to find a very pleasing product that they’ll enjoy,” said Hulehan. “The prices are acceptable . And the nice thing, I think, what they’re going to enjoy is they can go back there a couple times in a week and get something different.”  

Students who are interested in working at Freshens can visit The Den and ask Lisa Jean Sargent for details.