nate hybl

Former UGA quarterback Nate Hybl opened the first Athens gusto! on Alps Road in April 2022. (Courtesy/gusto!)

In April, Georgia native Nate Hybl opened the first Athens location of gusto!, a restaurant chain that sells healthy bowls and wraps. Around 24 years ago, Hybl was running through Sanford Stadium on Saturdays proudly sporting the Georgia Bulldog uniform.

A former quarterback at the University of Georgia, Hybl opened a gusto! on Alps Road to bring his values of healthy eating to the Athens community. He first started the chain in 2014 and named the restaurant gusto! to reflect his values of living life with intention and vivacity, he said.

“I think my past is clearly a part of gusto! from a leadership standpoint, from a determination to be great and unique,” Hybl said. “It’s hard to sum up, going from football player to entrepreneur in a long period of time, but I fell in love with garlic and ginger and mango and [with] the stories behind those ingredients, and I just felt this mission that I couldn’t shake to share those ingredients with the South.”

Along with promoting health in the community, Hybl wants to use his restaurant chain to give back to those in need. For the grand opening of the Athens location gusto! flew out NFL running back Todd Gurley and made a donation to the M.A.D.E Sports Foundation, Gurley’s organization for youths in sports, Hybl said.

“We are building a special brand,” Hybl said. “We’re not in a hurry, we are thoughtful about our growth plans and one of our values in action is quality over quantity. We want to actually impact the communities where we have gusto! locations. It’s not about the money, it’s about human beings and the impacts that we make with our teammates and our communities.’’

According to Hybl, a lot of the gusto! menu is designed to accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets. Everything on the menu can be served as vegetarian, and there is a tofu option for those who still want the added protein. gusto! Athens also has a drive-thru, providing a healthier and meat-free alternative to fast food dining.

Every dish is served with the choice of gusto, which is a mixture of sauce, vegetables and other toppings that create a certain flavor palette for a wrap, bowl or salad. Some gusto choices include sweet soy sriracha, ginger lime peanut and chile sesame barbeque.

The most popular gusto is the chipotle mango avocado, but Hybl’s current favorite is the tahini cucumber feta, he said.

Hybl plans to expand gusto! outside of Georgia and share his love of quick, clean eating with the entire Southeast.

“The thing that makes gusto! different [from] most is that you can take a quick trip to Japan, you can take a quick trip to Greece, you can take a quick trip to Thailand,” Hybl said. “We’re not just one cuisine. It’s globally inspired, so there are multiple things to choose from.”