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‘Be Good’ salad commemorates former employee

Pictured is the Be Good Salad at John’s Garden in the Malibu Country Mart. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
5:07 pm PDT August 12, 2014

John’s Garden is one of Malibu’s perfect little pit stops.

Found in the Malibu Country Mart, the store features a variety of health-conscious snacks and drinks, including a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free products and an eatery serving up an equally wide variety of fresh items.

But until last year, customers – whether customers were ordering a vegetarian burger or buying a granola bar – were given a friendly send-off from a mustached Steve Ridgway as he rang up their purchase.

“Be good out there” was the locally famous catchphrase of Ridgway, who passed away in early April last year. He worked as a cashier at John’s Garden for the better part of four decades, and had been employed at the health-conscious eatery and snack shop since its inception in the 1970s.

Ridgway and his catchphrase, however, are commemorated in at least two ways: For one, a plaque with the slogan hangs above the exit to John’s Garden; for another, a salad was recently named after the mantra by current owner Boyan Kinov.

“A lot of people in Malibu grew up knowing Steve,” said Kalin Kinov, brother of John’s Garden owner Boyan. “So we wanted to pay our respects to him and his memory by calling this salad the ‘Be Good.’”

This satiating salad is comprised of a bed of baby greens with Parmesan cheese. Thrown into the mix are grape tomatoes, orange cubes, capers and pine nuts, while the centerpiece of this dish features a satisfying portion of grilled salmon cut into conveniently sized slices.

The salad comes with a side portion of homemade lemon vinaigrette, which lends the dish a delicately tangy touch.

Ridgway began working at John’s Garden in 1975 when founder John Musante opened a fruit stand in the Malibu Country Mart.

The fruit stand, a more permanent foothold in Malibu, came nearly 20 years after Musante expanded his already established door-to-door produce delivery truck business to service Malibu homes.

Along with Musante and his two sons, Ridgway helped open John’s Garden in June 1975.

Next year, John’s Garden will celebrate 40 years of service in Malibu. Throughout that time, Kalin said very little has changed at the store and eatery.

“We never take anything off of the menu,” said Kalin. “If anything, we add items to the menu, like the Be Good salad, but we never take anything off.”

Other dishes not to miss:

Black Bean Burger: This vegetarian dish is served with a generously sized black bean patty topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, all placed between two fresh buns. The main attraction of this dish is the patty, which is both a welcomed dish for vegetarians and a delicious change of pace for meat-eaters.

The Surfer/Princess: This turkey sandwich is served with avocado, lettuce tomato and mayonnaise. Feel free to order it as “The Surfer” or “The Princess” and rest assured you’ll get the same dish. When Boyan Kinov took ownership of John’s Garden, “The Princess” was changed to “The Surfer,” but many long-time customers refused to break from habit and tradition, so the menu was changed to reflect both names for this dish.