Restaurant goers to see their lettuce grow before their eyes

Neon Greens will be a vertically integrated salad restaurant where the lettuce is brought from the onsite growers to the kitchen via a conveyer belt floating above customers’ heads.

“Neon Greens is all about radical transparency — that is the whole idea behind us,” said owner Josh Smith. The restaurant in St. Louis — set to open this summer — is aiming to grow all its lettuce hydroponically, in front of the customers’ eyes.

“The customer is really a part of the produce journey from seed to play,” Smith said. “They see the whole thing and it happens before their eyes.” The idea was born out of COVID. During the pandemic, Smith started growing lettuce hydroponically through a kit alongside his partner for fun. Just one month later, Smith had ordered industrial farming equipment and set up over 100 plants in his home.

“Sort of along the lines of storytelling, I’m telling the story,” he said. The idea for the conveyer belt came from a desire to have produce harvested as close to the time of eating as possible, something Smith learned when he decided to start growing his own lettuce.


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