I had two goals on my visit to Everytable at Cal State LA as the spring semester began: I wanted another of those tasty “Salmon Superfood” salads. And I needed an interview with Sam Polk, the restaurant chain’s founder.
I scanned the busy space, situated near the entrance to the campus library, looking for the former hedge-fund superstar; a man who used to frequent haute restaurants and grumble that the millions he earned each year weren’t enough.
What I spotted, to my surprise, was a scruffy guy in a denim jacket and checkered Vans, hunched over an ancient MacBook at a lunch counter crammed with hungry college students.
The new restaurant was crowded with newbies. The music was on the blink, silencing Everytable’s signature playlist. Gridlock had consumed the space where the trendy tables were supposed to be. And there was Sam Polk, deep into figuring out how to change the logistics and remedy the glitches.
I watched as he waded into the scrum, rearranging the plastic pylons and moving elastic bands to create a new pattern of rows, so that customers could move efficiently from the food shelves to the checkout counter.
“Signs! We need signs!” Polk called out to the store manager, as he guided students along his newly configured route.
It was the first day of spring semester classes at Cal State LA—and the first real test for Everytable, which aims to expand its revolutionary restaurant model across Los Angeles County.