HUNTINGTON  Jared Sims says whenever he is in downtown Huntington around lunch time, his favorite place to stop for a quick, healthy lunch is the Fuel Counter at The Market on 3rd Avenue.

Fuel Counter, a fast casual restaurant serving healthier from-scratch meals, has been open at The Market for just over a year.

"The prices are very good and you can get your food made-to-order fast," Sims said.

"The response to Fuel Counter at The Market has been both amazing and overwhelming," said Jennifer Jill, the owner and operator of Fuel Counter. "The Market has such a great flow of traffic here. They do lots of events here as well, which has benefited all of the downtown business at The Market."

Sims, from Barboursville, said he was excited to hear the news that a new Fuel Counter is coming later this summer to Barboursville in the former location of Oscar's Breakfast, Burgers & Brews.

"I can't wait for them to come to Barboursville," he said. "That's the perfect location for a new one."

Jill says following the reception to the downtown Huntington location, she couldn't pass up the opportunity to open a new Fuel Counter restaurant when she heard Oscar's was moving over to a larger space in the old Christopher Eats location nearby.

"We have had many customers at The Market location ask us if we would ever go to Barboursville, so when the opportunity came it motivated us to make it happen," Jill said. "We are glad to be a part of the growth in Barboursville and a new member of such a wonderful community."

Jill said a total renovation is taking place at the Barboursville location.

"We ended up gutting it and had to shift some walls," she said. "The kitchen area has been restructured to fit our needs, the floors are going down and overall the entire renovation process is going really quick," she said.

Jill says Fuel Counter is so named because, "Food is fuel. What you put in your body fuels your day."

The eatery operates from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week, serving made-to-order sandwiches, wraps, salads and personal pizzas - including a gluten-free pizza dough option. The new Barboursville location will have the same hours of operations and the same menu, which will also include smoothies at The Market location in the next few weeks and at the Barboursville location when it opens, according to Jill.

"The new Barboursville location will offer a larger seating area inside the restaurant, along with an outdoor area and a drive-through window," she said. "The dcor will be basically the same, but with the Barboursville location we can make the dining room our own."

At The Market location in Huntington, the restaurant shares seating in a common area with 50 seats inside and 50 outdoors.

The new Barboursville restaurant will employ approximately 20 to 25 people, she said.

Both restaurants will have numerous "signature" Fuel original items.

"Build-your-own is a unique concept that allows customers to create their ideal meal the way they want it," Jill said. "Fuel Counter has a simple menu with endless options at affordable prices."

Entrees are priced at $7.75 regardless of which toppings and sauces are chosen, she said.

Jill says patrons can customize their meals with more than 60 fresh ingredients. The gourmet fixings range from vegetables, nuts and herbs, to bacon and various meats, cheeses, sauces, spices and toppings.

Jill added that both locations will use locally farmed produce and other commodities.

"We believe in connecting local suppliers with consumers and building relationships between our farms and our families," she said.

Jill said she decided to open a healthy fast food restaurant because of her own circumstances as a busy mom.

"I wanted a healthy, fast, affordable and delicious meal for my family," she said. "I saw this as an opportunity in our area to offer healthier, fresher, convenient gourmet options. People are busier than ever. They want a quick bite that tastes great, but they also want to feel good about what they're eating. Everyone should have the opportunity to eat healthier with fresh ingredients."

Jill said this style of restaurant also meets the needs of people with food allergies and dietary restrictions, as well as individuals who simply prefer fresh, healthier food.

"There's a growing population with allergies, dietary limitations and different lifestyle choices," she said. "Fuel Counter allows you to mix your taste to satisfy your individual needs. We can meet the wishes of vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, dairy-free, heart healthy, Paleo, low carb and more."

Fuel Counter customers can place an order through either the store's website or mobile app and then stop by the restaurant to pick it up. The Fuel Counter app is available for free from the iTunes store, the Apple store and Android store.

Fuel Counter also offers a separate catering menu for business lunches, parties and other events and group gatherings, Jill said.

She said the long-term plan for the restaurant is to offer its team members growth opportunities.

"We have been implementing an 'earn your own' program to give our employees and others the chance to own or manage their own Fuel Counter," Jill said. "We have one employee that has been working her way up with ownership as her end goal and we are helping her to get there."

Learn more about the Fuel Counter at www.thefuelcounter.com or find them on Facebook.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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