041316deansmkt1Dean’s Market grab n’ go harvest salad with a cheerful raspberry vinaigrette. Jenna Rae Alexy, manager, seen below, has lost 100 pounds while working at the store… just saying. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


041316deansmkt4Popping into Dean’s Natural Food Market on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, PieHole finds the place swamped with hungry customers and a young but experienced staff hustling to fill juice orders and answer questions.

Attentive to her customers as well as the surfer-dude-healthy guys working the juice counter, manager Jenna Rae Alexy seems to know many of her customers by name. She also knows what they will order. 041316deansmkt5Angela DiMarzo, wearing a pale blue hoodie, says she’s a daily customer at the store, which features an eat-in café, below.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

041316deansmkt3“Most of the people come in every day,” she says. “They usually order the same thing.”

Prepared sandwiches and the salad bar are popular, but the various juice mixtures and smoothies seem to be the most sought-after, she said.

Eyeing the crowd hovering around the juice and salad bars, we’re curious to know if it’s always like this at lunch time.

Customer Angela DiMarzo tells us that she comes here for lunch every day. “They have everything that I’m looking for,” she says, “I trust them, and they do a great job. It’s awesome to find a nice clean salad bar. Plus, everybody knows you.”

Another customer steps up and starts grilling one of the guys behind the counter.

“Are all of your juices gluten-free?” she asks. She continues her quiz, asking what can be added to her smoothie for extra protein, and then reiterating her need that it be gluten-free. Patiently, he shows her the content sticker on the container of protein powder, and she’s happy with her choice of smoothie for lunch.

The line for fresh-made smoothies is now 10 deep, but nobody seems to care. In turn, everyone gets what they came for, and heads to the front of the market to pay at the cashier station. Some stay and eat at the café in the front of the store.

Alexy, who has been working here for two and a half years says she loves her job. “When I started here, I was about 230 pounds, and this job really helped me to get motivated.” She’s down almost 100 pounds, offering inspiration to the customers she’s so familiar with.

The grab n’ go case is well-stocked with tempeh salads, a traditional-looking Greek salad, and a chopped salad with turkey. The kale pesto covered noodles are tempting, as is the lentil loaf.

We opt for a pre-made harvest salad. Organic baby greens, chunks of creamy cheddar cheese, pecans, red onion, grape tomatoes and a healthy amount of dried cranberries are crowned with a cheerful raspberry vinaigrette — so pretty we consider painting the walls of a room this color.

At $5.99 the salad is a terrific score. Fast, cheap and organically good for you. No wonder this place is hopping at lunch time.

Dean’s Market is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, with shorter hours on the weekend.