Breadless in Detroit Turns the Afterthought into the Centerpiece with Healthy, Innovative Sandwich Concept

Jake Newby

| 4 min read

Imagine stopping for food on the way home and having the option to pick up a delicious, flavor-filled sandwich that inherently has at least 200 fewer calories in it than the sandwiches and subs you’d buy elsewhere.
You don’t have to imagine a concept like this because it is alive and thriving at Breadless, the fast-casual Detroit restaurant that turns the afterthought into the core product by swapping out gluten-packed bread rolls with healthy leafy greens. 
“We are reimagining the sandwich. We are creating a whole new category of dining at the end of the day,” said Marc Howland, who co-founded Breadless alongside his wife, LaTresha, and head chef, Ryan Eli Salter. “We’re making it easy for someone to eat healthy and enjoy something that’s packed with flavor at the same time.”
The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) ranks leafy green vegetables as the healthiest food you can eat with veggies like collard greens, kale and Swiss Chard scoring a perfect 1000on the ANDI. These greens are what Breadless uses to conceal tasty, chef-inspired concoctions like the chicken bacon ranch wrap, pastrami classic and jerk chicken and mango, which Howland says is the restaurant’s no. 1 fan-favorite.
As is the case with many restaurant concepts, Breadless happened because Howland, the owner, wanted to patronize a place exactly like it when he was younger.
“I was someone who grew up with a single mom trying to raise two kids, didn’t have a lot of healthy food options,” said Howland, a Cleveland, Ohio-area native and former college athlete. He realized personally that reducing all the carbohydrates and calories in bread to maintain his physique was a “cheat code.”
“I ended up going to school on a full scholarship and working long hours on Wall Street actually just trying to find food that would energize and sustain me,” he added, “I wanted something delicious, healthy and convenient. Whenever I went somewhere and asked for a sandwich without the bread, I got a sloppy, bland lettuce wrap.”
After developing the concept, Eli Salter and the Howlands embarked on their “starving artist” phase. They source fresh produce, proteins and ingredients, wrapped them up in Swiss Chard, turnip greens and collard greens, placed them in brown paper bags and started selling them at gyms and YMCAs in Detroit. That’s where they learned they were onto something.
A Breadless chicken bacon ranch salad
“It created a snowball effect, next thing we knew people were leaving notes for us and reaching out asking where they could find us next,” Howland said.
That snowball became an avalanche for the Breadless brain trust, and in 2022 Breadless opened Detroit. About a year later, it opened its second location in Rochester Hills.

Why bringing a health-conscious option to Detroit neighborhoods was a must

Walk out of the front door at Breadless’ Detroit location and take a couple hundred steps in any direction and you’ll be planted smack dab in the middle of a Detroit neighborhood. Access to healthy, affordable food hasn’t been historically easy for Detroiters.
Food insecurity occurs when a household cannot acquire adequate food because of insufficient funds or a lack of accessibility to resources for food.It’s historically been an issue in Detroit, with the Detroit Food Policy Council reporting in 2021 that 69% of Detroit households were considered food insecure.
Fresh and healthy options that are closer to Detroit’s inner cities than they are to downtown proper are always a welcome sight for residents. Breadless’ Larned Street location fits that description, and with $10 entry points for its sandwiches, bowls, wraps and kids’ items, it’s an affordable lunch or dinner option for surrounding community members.
“This was a huge part of our focus,” Howland said. “Detroit has 1,700 urban gardens and farms. Fresh food, but not a lot of outlets for people to consume this fresh food in a format that’s enjoyable and flavorful and convenient. We absolutely wanted to be that bridge. We also thought about it from an accessibility standpoint. You can get a delicious, breadless sandwich for a $10 entry point. So, it’s affordable and accessible for the community.”

Breadless’ malleable menu fits in with a variety of diets and dietary restrictions 

Between its creative balsamic mushroom, spicy falafel and sweet potato & squash sandwiches, Breadless does not discount Detroit’s growing community of vegans and vegetarians. Every option on the menu is naturally gluten free, since bread is nowhere to be found. Carb counters and Keto dieters can also turn to Breadless, which Howland said was intentional with the way it devised its menu.
“This is what was important to us, we knew that first and foremost food should be good,” he said. “Food should be good. You want to enjoy what you’re eating. So, we lead with flavor first and utilize completely unique ways to deliver flavor to people in creative, innovative, healthy, and convenient ways.”
Breadless, which also offers catering options, is open seven days a week at both locations. The Detroit Breadless is at 2760 E. Larned. The Rochester Hills address is 181 S. Livernois Road.
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Photo credit: Marc Howland/Facebook

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