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