by Matt Weik
I’m not going to lie, when I was with MET-Rx I loved traveling to New Jersey. Not because of the beaches, but because of the Muscle Maker Grill locations. Now, Muscle Maker Grill is expanding and you can find them in NY, PA, VA, MA, NC, IL, GA, FL, KS, NE, TX, AZ, NV, CA, and even one opening in Kuwait. Just about every month it seems like a new location is opening in the US. It’s amazing to watch the growth of this business from when it first started. Now, they are on a warpath to provide health-conscious people with high quality, protein-packed meals.
It all started with a man named, Rod Silva. Active in fitness and bodybuilding, Rod was sick of not being able to find the food he needed to support his lifestyle when eating out at a restaurant. And when he could, he’d need to explain exactly how he wanted every part of his meal prepared. He decided enough was enough and saw a void in the marketplace for a place that likeminded individuals could go to get healthy food, prepared how a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast would want it.
In 1995, Rod opened his first Muscle Maker Grill location. He had an extremely diverse menu to appeal to anyone who would walk through the door. Patrons were able to order fresh food made with real ingredients no matter if they wanted something grass-fed and high in protein, vegetarian, gluten-free, or low-carb. Personally, I was in heaven. And trust me, when I tell you over the course of my career with MET-Rx, I’ve spent hundreds if not a thousand plus dollars at Muscle Maker Grill locations, it’s the truth.
More than anything, the food was great, but the company you surrounded yourself was even better. No matter where you looked, you were surrounded by people who live the lifestyle, exercise regularly, and who share common goals. You can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. In fact, it helped my business eating there because while sitting down enjoying a meal, everyone would see my MET-Rx apparel and come over to me asking questions—many of them would go buy a drink from the cooler or ask for a protein shake using a MET-Rx meal replacement packet. It was a win-win for everyone.
When Rod started franchising the locations, things completely blew up (in a good way). Everyone seemed to love the business model and wanted to be a part of the MMG franchise program. There were even some businesses who opened their own business trying to mimic what Rod built, but called it something other than Muscle Maker Grill, and most of them failed miserably in comparison. In my opinion, there’s only one Muscle Maker Grill—often imitated, never duplicated.
To further expand their business they created a rewards program, an app, a catering service, and even a meal plan program for those who wanted multiple meals throughout the week.
Let’s dig in! While many would consider this more along the lines of fast food, their menu is extensive. You have starters (appetizers) such as edamame, turkey chili, and other healthy soups. Then for the main dishes you have every salad imaginable from a turkey taco, to a kale and quinoa, and even a lean and mean cheeseburger salad. They also have your normal burgers and grilled chicken burgers. You also have the option of a low-carb version in the form of a wrap. With over 10 different wraps to choose from, you can go there and order a different one each time. Some of the must have wraps in my opinion are the MMG Signature, Rocky, XXL Turkey Burger, and the Yee-Ha!
They also sell gigantic turkey meatballs (a must try). You can order pasta dishes if you’re in the mood for pasta (all pasta dishes are served with grilled chicken). Then you have the bowls which are main dishes. You’re looking at things like grilled chicken with rice and vegetables, turkey chili, healthy fajitas, and many other delicious dishes. In the mood for pizza? No problem! Muscle Maker Grill makes some amazing flatbread pizzas. You have everything from plain, to BBQ chicken, the works, veggie, and “margherita.” If you want something on the side with your meals, they have many options to choose from. You can get steamed broccoli, grilled chicken breast, shrimp, brown rice, sweet potato fries, spinach, and even grass-fed steak on the side.
Then if you wanted a cool treat for the road, you could grab a smoothie or protein shake. With tons of different flavors and things you can add in such as fruit, kale, peanut butter, spinach, vitamins, or even a fat burner, you’ll never leave there hungry. On top of the freshly made shakes, they have coolers with different brands of RTDs, such as Muscle Milk, Isopure, MET-Rx, Pure Protein, Labrada, VPX, ABB, as well as different brands of teas and energy drinks.
What was my go-to when I would visit one of their locations? Get a drink because this might take a while to type out. I would start off with edamame and turkey meatballs. I would then choose between three different meals (trust me, it wasn’t easy to choose). I would either get the Rocky wrap, the turkey chili bowl, or the Arizona. Sometimes if I was going to be on the road for several days I would buy multiple and take them back to the hotel with me to eat for other meals. Then on the way out to get back on the road for meetings, I would grab a chocolate peanut butter or chocolate banana freshly made protein shake to sip throughout the afternoon. Now, you probably understand why earlier I said I spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars at these locations over the span of about ten years.
What’s So Special About MMG?
To me, it’s the combination of great food and great company. Everyone there speaks your lingo. They all are there to eat a nutrient-dense meal to further their health and fitness goals. The meals are made fresh and have a ton of flavor to them. Their low-carb sauces are amazing and add another dimension to the meals. And everything is prepared the way you would want it. You can even substitute things in your meals if you wanted to change it up. You don’t even need to mention “no butter, please” because they don’t use butters or oils—they steam all of their vegetables. And best of all, the prices are reasonable. You aren’t going to break the bank eating there.
If I had the choice of eating at Muscle Maker Grill or a fast food restaurant, the choice would be simple. And with so many of them popping up throughout out NJ and NY, it’s almost like there’s a location nearby regardless of where you are in those states. Heck, I would be driving on my way to my next meeting in NJ and I’d stop in to grab a shake, or some turkey meatballs as a snack late in the afternoon if I needed one. I simply can’t say enough good things about Muscle Maker Grill.
And with the addition of the meal plan service, eating healthy just got a whole lot easier. You can go online and customize the meals you want and be extremely selective, and they will make them fresh and deliver them to you or you can swing by and pick them up yourself. Obviously, if you live in a state that doesn’t have a location or you live too far away, the meal plan service wouldn’t apply to you. But for those of you who completely hate prepping meals or want something delivered to the office for you to eat every day, their meal plan service is right up your alley. Some locations will even deliver an individual meal without paying for a plan.
Personally, I wish there were more locations in PA. I’m sure some of you live in locations where you would love the idea of having one nearby, but you know it’s not the right market for that type of restaurant. I’ve waivered back and forth if I wanted to open a location right here where I live. I probably wouldn’t make any money since I’d be eating all of the profits as meals, but to this day I’d still like to open one and give it a go. I have a few key places where I feel it might work locally, I just haven’t pulled the trigger on it.
What’s my take-home message? If you are looking for a great place to eat where you’re getting meals prepared exactly how you want them and are high in protein, give Muscle Maker Grill a try. In fact, if you are driving through a state that has one, make an effort to stop in for a meal to try it for yourself. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. You’ll leave wishing you had one closer to your house!