Breanna Denney /Nevada Sagebrush

The Veghead Sandwich (left) and the Green House Salad (right) are two food items prepared at Great Full Gardens express on Monday, Oct.20. The restaurant is designed to appeal to a variety of diets.

By Rocio Hernandez

Four years ago, Reno locals Juli and Gino Scala wanted to improve their well-being by switching their diet to a healthier one. However, they found that there weren’t many restaurant options that would accommodate their new eating habits.

This inspired them to open their own restaurants: Pathways at the University of Nevada, Reno Medical School in 2010 and Great Full Gardens in MidTown in 2013. Their latest restaurant, Great Full Gardens express, opened last Monday, Oct. 15.

Great Full Gardens express is located between Port of Subs and Panda Express in the 15th Street Food Court on the second floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union.

According to its menu handout, all of the restaurant’s meats are hormone-free and contain no growth stimulants, antibiotics, fillers, nitrates or nitrites and their mayo, aioli and “butter” items are all vegan. The restaurant’s mission is to provide its customers with food that fits every healthy lifestyle.

“I am just happy that we can accommodate the people that have certain dietary needs [such as] vegans and paleos that might not be addressed or accessible in some of those other restaurant,” Scala said.

Senior Shawna Koehler-Larsen doesn’t eat foods that contain dairy because she is lactose intolerant. Koehler-Larsen enjoys the restaurant because can order foods such as the Veghead Sandwich and the vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that won’t make her feel sick.

“[Great Full Gardens express] allows me to be able to eat food that is friendly to my dietary restriction,” Koehler-Larsen said. “I could eat at the new burrito place called The Works but the quality of food isn’t nearly as good. [Great Full Gardens express] just adds more options and I’m more likely to eat on campus now.”

Both Great Full Gardens enterprises try to work with as many local farms as possible as well as the Great Basin Food Co-op to purchase produce that is locally-grown and organic. Scala said they do this because the fewer chemicals are in the food, the better.

“There are products out there that are organic and natural [and contain] no growth hormones and no nitrites,” Scala said. “It does cost a little, and a lot of restaurants are just not willing to pay the price for that and we did. We think it’s important that you feel good after you eat and that food is nurturing and not poisonous.”

At Great Full Gardens express, students can choose from salad bowls, waffles, burgers, sandwiches and soups. The most expensive food item on the restaurant’s menu is the Paleo Salmon Bowl, which costs $9.25, and its cheapest items are the GinoTheSoupMan soup cups, which cost $3.50. According to Alex Slater, general manager of the UNR location, food portions served at Great Full Gardens express are smaller than those served at the MidTown restaurant to provide students with lower prices to fit their budgets.

Senior Max Wynn has eaten at Great Full Gardens’ MidTown location and said  that he is excited that they are on campus. He said the restaurant gives him more food options, since he follows a paleo diet, but that it is still  expensive for small portions of food.

“I am happy that there is a push toward more healthy and natural food, but at the same time it is, for being a college student, a relatively expensive option to not get that much and not to have too great of a variety of options,” Wynn said. “However, I understand that they are kind of limited in trying to be quick service, college-setting sort of restaurant.”

Hernández said that students that come visit Great Full Gardens express will find a culture, and atmosphere that stands out at the Joe.

“We are wholesome, healthy and we put our positive attitude out there for everybody to receive,” Hernández said. “We have passion for what we do and we just want to let everybody know that if they want something they can enjoy and want it to me good for their bodies, this is the place to be.”

Rocio Hernandez can be reached at