Chain News & Profiles includes news on chain restaurants, operations, profiles, trend pieces and new concepts.
With full-service and casual dining growth at one percent last year, competition for the diner’s dollar continues to escalate. Operators continue to seek new ways to entice customers to frequent their restaurants as opposed to eating in alternative locations down the street. To do this, foodservice operators keep looking for ways to satisfy the evolving demands of socially-networked, technology-savvy, issue-conscious consumers.
Foodservice operators from a variety of industry segments turn to central kitchens to achieve standardization, consistency, cost controls and scheduling efficiency. Here we look at how a pair of noncommercial foodservice operators — Corpus Christi Schools and Ohio University — achieve these goals and much more.
After retiring from a 20-year career in the healthcare industry, including as president of a pharmaceutical distribution operation with over a billion dollars in sales, John Rivers followed his true passions: Texas-style brisket and conscious capitalism. Founder and CEO of the growing 4 Rivers Smokehouse concept, as well as a new concept called The Coop, Rivers turned restaurateur by way of what he calls a “BBQ ministry,” launched in 2004 from his garage. The genesis was a fundraising event he hosted to help support a local family facing mounting cancer-related medical bills.
A café in Saint Francis Hospital’s new emergency center/patient tower and a servery and kitchen at the Laureate Eating Disorders Program offer staff, visitors andpatients healthful meal and snack options.
What started as an idea for making a little money to supplement the family income has become a fast-growing franchise for Stacy Brown, a self-proclaimed chicken salad connoisseur. She, with her husband Kevin, who left a career in software sales to join her in the restaurant business, founded the sassy, Southern fast-casual Chicken Salad Chick concept as a drive-thru and takeout-only operation in Auburn, Ala., in 2008.
This California-based chain intends to raise the reputation of the humble hot dog with a menu of all-beef franks, high-end toppings and scores of franchise locations in the works.
One of New York City’s first food trucks, Mexicue made its debut in 2010 on the corner of 52nd and Park. From day one, the lines extended around the block, reviewers raved, and founders David Schillace and Thomas Kelly knew they were on to something big with their tasty mashup of Mexican and barbecue-inspired street food.
The fast-casual pizza segment has gone from nowhere to seemingly everywhere with head-spinning speed. While the niche is the industry’s new darling, operators within it are suddenly finding themselves hard-pressed to create real points of differentiation. Pizza Studio, which opened its first unit in Los Angeles in January of 2013, has done so with its menu as well as with its creative, art-centric concept.
You might call it eatertainment for the millennial age. Punch Bowl Social brings elevated casual comfort food, craft beverages and old-school, unplugged entertainment together in a single venue. Founded in 2012 by Denver-based Seasoned Development, the concept places equal emphasis on those three foundations — food, drink, entertainment — according to Robert Thompson, Seasoned Development’s CEO and Punch Bowl founder.
A job as a busboy at a Mexican restaurant hooked Rocco Mangel on the idea of developing his own eating establishment. He spent two years working and formulating his idea, but a chance meeting with his former employers, partners at multiconcept operator Big Time Restaurant Group (BTRG), brought it to fruition. BTRG was interested in adding a Mexican concept to its portfolio and teamed up with Mangel, who subsequently spent 6 months visiting more than 60 restaurants across Mexico and refining his Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar concept.
When Steve Ells and company developed their game-changing Chipotle Mexican Grill concept, they had the benefit of starting with a cuisine already well known and loved by mainstream American consumers. Such was not the case for the three young friends behind Tava Indian Kitchen, the fast-casual brand they launched in the San Francisco Bay area in 2011. But to founders Vijay Brihmadesam, Hasnain Zaidi and Jason Pate, who fled the finance and consulting worlds to launch Tava, that spelled opportunity.