York resident Robert Fontes has recently opened Clean Eatz, a healthy eating establishment specializing in meal preparation, at 300 Gallery Blvd. in Scarborough. Fontes said he was a fan of the Clean Eatz meals in North Carolina, and after moving to Maine, decided to bring a franchise to the state. Catherine Bart photo

SCARBOROUGH — Clean Eatz opened this May at 300 Gallery Blvd. in Scarborough, and owner Robert Fontes said the establishment is the first of its kind in the area.

The restaurant specializes in helping customers meet their nutritional goals, he said. People can sign up for weekly meal plans, order grab-and-go meals or eat in at the café.

With a flexible menu, Clean Eatz lets customers customize their food, choose the type of protein, grains or vegetables they want, with options like wraps, burgers, bowls and flatbread sandwiches, Fontes said. The store also serves a variety of smoothie options.

Clean Eatz has over 50 locations across the country and Fontes said he is now one of the newest franchise owners, bringing the restaurant to Maine.

“About six years ago I was living in North Carolina,” he said. “I’ve been an endurance athlete most of my life. I’d been given a copious amount of calories I have to consume every day and we were doing the meal planning menu plan, and we found Clean Eatz through the advice of the lady doing my nutrition.”

Fontes moved to Maine three years ago, he said.

“We moved up here and no Clean Eatz,” Fontes said. “So we were ordering from their main site in Wilmington, North Carolina, called Clean Eatz Kitchen, and they deliver throughout the country. One day my wife was ordering food and noticed they had a franchises available and she was like, ‘We totally have to do this.’ So we called the owners and met with them and it was a good fit from the beginning.”

After buying a franchise license in January of 2020, the process of opening the restaurant was slow due the pandemic, but Clean Eatz was able to have its grand opening this May, Fontes said.

“The community support has been fantastic and so has the feedback we’ve been getting from everybody,” he said. “Everybody’s super excited to have this sort of restaurant here and available to them. We’re the first thing like it around here.”

Scarborough customers have been one of the best parts of opening at the location, Fontes said.

“Portland has a wonderful food scene, and I think this is a good blend of being close enough to the residential market of Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, Saco, without the congestion of Portland,” he said.

Fontes said meal plans began during the week of May 31. People can sign up every Thursday through Sunday at cleaneatz.com/locations/scarborough-me or by visiting the store.

“That’s a new menu, goes live every Thursday,” he said. “You can sign up online if you want to and order as many as you want. We’ll make them fresh for you and you can come pick them up on Sunday or Monday.”

Meal preparation is a method many have been trying out since the pandemic began, Fontes said.

“A lot of people are super busy in their worlds and especially with the pandemic and working from home with kids,” he said. “They don’t have time to get out to the market, let alone cook so we’re a great solution for that. Also for the soccer mom type client, just that busy, busy lifestyle.”

He said many have been paying closer attention to what and how they eat.

“My mom was right — ‘You are what you eat,'” Fontes said. “You’ve got to pay attention to what you put in your mouth. Just because it’s fast food doesn’t mean that it has to be bad food. We’re just a great first step for people to take control of their nutrition. It shouldn’t be so hard to eat good food, so we’ll do all the hard work for you.”

Staffing has been the biggest challenge since opening, Fontes said.

“The people we have are wonderful, but good people are hard to come by right now,” he said.

According to a press release, people interested in applying for a position at Clean Eatz can email [email protected] or inquire in-person at the location.

Clean Eatz’s Instagram page is @cleaneatzscarborough, said Fontes.

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