Chain News & Profiles

Chain News & Profiles includes news on chain restaurants, operations, profiles, trend pieces and new concepts.

2015 Chain Innovators: Cava Grill

The Cava brand was launched in 2006 as Cava Mezze, a full-service, Greek-inspired restaurant in Washington, D.C. There are now three in operation in the D.C. area, as well as a Cava Foods division, which sells packaged dips and spreads from the restaurant’s menu in Whole Foods stores in D.C. and New York City. But the brand’s newest spinoff, and the one with which it is gaining traction in the chain restaurant arena, is Cava Grill. It’s a fast-casual operation offering healthful, scratch-made Greek and Mediterranean specialties in a modern, design-forward setting.

2015 Chain Innovators: Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Seeing an opportunity to infuse the breakfast daypart with a shot of youthful innovation, brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel whipped up the concept for Snooze in 2006 and opened their first unit in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood. Decidedly distinct from traditional breakfast chains or diners, Snooze was built on creative, farm-to-table culinary; comfortable, friendly service; an eclectic and energetic atmosphere; and a strong culture of sustainability.

Reengineering the Kitchen to Serve the New Consumer

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.

Central Kitchens Come Into Focus

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.

2015 Chain Innovators: 4 Rivers Smokehouse

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.

On-site Profile: Capturing Café Business at Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa, Okla

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.

2015 Chain Innovators: Chicken Salad Chick

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.

Chain Profile: Dog Haus Wants You to Rethink the Hot Dog

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.

2015 Chain Innovators: Mexicue, Food Truck Goes Full-Service

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.

2015 Chain Innovators: Pizza Studio

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.

2015 Chain Innovators: Punch Bowl Social

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.