Chain News & Profiles

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

10 Chain Innovators: Bowl of Heaven

Bowl of Heaven started with an idea, sketched out on a napkin, for a whole new type of fast-casual chain that would bring what co-founder Dan McCormick calls "the world's healthiest meals" to the masses.

10 Chain Innovators: Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

Chocolate lovers have a new treat coming soon to a market near them. Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, a fast-casual operation that celebrates chocolate culture in Parisian-café-meets-Willy-Wonka fashion, opened its first new U.S. prototype in Bethesda, Md., last August and plans to expand nationally over the next few years.

10 Chain Innovators: Melt Bar and Grilled

To get a taste of the culture and cuisine at Melt Bar and Grilled, consider last month's LTO. Promoted with imagery of a hip-looking polar bear in a black leather "Hell's Penguins" jacket, the Mighty Macaroni Melt featured housemade macaroni and cheese, breaded and fried, and then topped with additional cheese — all melted between slices of toasted fresh-baked bread.

10 Chain Innovators: Native Foods Café

The first time Andrea McGinty wandered into the original Native Foods Café in Palm Springs, Calif., she looked at the all-vegan menu and turned around to leave. She wasn't a vegan, and her perceptions of vegan food weren't exactly positive. Urged by the manager to give it a try, she did, choosing the Scorpion burger — a house-made blackened tempeh patty with chipotle sauce, lettuce, carrot, avocado and onion. She soon became a regular, and in 2009, with husband and partner Daniel Dolan, purchased the majority of the then three-unit business. The pair set about streamlining operations, refining the menu and positioning Native Foods Café to become the first nationwide chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants.

10 Chain Innovators: PIADA Italian Street Food

Taking a proven fast-casual format and giving it a distinctive Italian accent has put Columbus, Ohio-based PIADA Italian Street Food on the fast-track to growth.

10 Chain Innovators: Slater’s 50/50

Scott Slater, founder and owner of Slater's 50/50, follows a "go big or go home" philosophy — at least when it comes to the casual-dining chain of burger- and beer-centric restaurants he founded slightly more than four years ago.

10 Chain Innovators: SlowBones Modern BBQ

The term "modern barbecue" might seem an oxymoron, but for Steven "Kip" Kolow, the idea of giving authentic barbecue a contemporary spin through format, environment and menu mix is one whose time has come.

10 Chain Innovators: STK

Set aside common perceptions of steakhouses as clubby, stuffy, traditional, male-oriented environs where big, beefy cuts of meat and big red wines dominate. STK is a different animal all together.

10 Chain Innovators: VERTS Kebap

College students often crave foods from home, but they don't often create their own restaurant chains to satisfy those cravings. That, however, is just what native Berliners Michael Heynes and Dominik Stein did when they discovered that none of the dining options near campus included their favorite Berlin street food, the döner kebap.

Chain Profile: Pie Five Pizza

Combining new high-speed ovens with a highly customizable menu, this Dallas-based chain is ready to make a name for itself in the fast-casual pizza segment.

Darden Prepares to Cast Off Red Lobster

Lopdrup to lead separation efforts.