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  • Salata Stresses Fresh

    This next-generation salad bar has rolled out a new prototype that emphasizes the quality of its ingredients and offers opportunities to upsell.

  • Cultivating Culinary Art at Café 78 in the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

    Visitors and midtown residents viewing art and attending events at this modern museum also receive culinary and beverage creations delivered by Dave Kwiatkowski and Marc Djozlija, partners of Wright & Company.

  • El Pollo Loco Plays a Game of Chicken

    The redesigned kitchens in this chain, which boasts 400-plus units, highlight its signature fresh grilled chicken. Now, El Pollo Loco aims to become a national player.

  • Expanding ?Dining ?Services ?at UConn

    A stand-alone catering facility and The Beanery café contribute to the broad range of dining services on this large campus in Storrs, Conn.

  • HopCat Follows its Own Beat

    This Michigan-based craft beer bar boasts $5 million in yearly sales per location thanks to a great beer selection and a commitment to quality eats.

  • Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria

    The chain's leaders believe their passion for pizza and commitment to high-quality ingredients will make this fast-casual pizza concept rise above its competitors.

  • Native Grill and Wings Takes Flight in New Lands

    After updating its menu, its look and even its name, this 35-year-old concept is finally expanding out of its home state of Arizona.

  • Putting the Texas in Texas Land and Cattle

    New ownership looks to revive this steakhouse chain by leveraging a contemporary design and a menu built around the different regions of the Lone Star State.

  • The Melting Pot Changes Its Ingredients

    Best known as a place for celebrations, this fondue concept is shifting its menu and updating its look to encourage more frequent visits.

  • Green Case Study: Panda Express

    Panda Restaurant Group, operator of Panda Express, Hibachi-San Japanese Grill and Panda Inn, a modern Asian concept, has been on a steady path toward sustainability for the last decade.

  • A Winning Soup Kitchen Makeover at Scott Christian Youth Fellowship and Recreational Center in Milwaukee

    New foodservice equipment and supplies allow this center to provide more nutritious meals to more people in need.

  • Spreading The Madness: A Profile of Teriyaki Madness

    With a simple menu and impressive sales figures, this Denver-based Asian concept forecasts going from just a handful of stores at the start of 2014 to 100 by 2018.

  • Bennigan’s: ?Call it a Comeback

    For years, Bennigan’s served as the model for casual-dining restaurants. But since 2008, when the chain entered and then exited bankruptcy, ?it hasn’t made much noise. Now, new leadership has built a new ?prototype, new menu and new franchise system that could make ?Bennigan’s great once again.

  • 2015 Chain Innovators: Bel Campo

    Farm to table? How about ranch to table — but instead of simply sourcing directly from the ranch, you actually own and operate the ranch, which raises grass-fed beef as well as goats, sheep, pigs and ducks? You also own the animal-welfare-sensitive slaughterhouse right down the road, the butcher shops where all of your meats are hand cut, and every other step in the process of getting premium-quality meats from ranch to restaurant — to the point of even providing the leather for the banquettes in your dining room.

  • 2015 Chain Innovators

    Today’s foodservice consumer has innumerable quality food options from which to choose. What they want, however, are foodservice providers that can deliver something that relates to their lifestyles and self-images.

  • 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 Smokehouseconcept, 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

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 2015 Chain Innovators: Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar

    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.

  • 2015 Chain Innovators: Tava Indian Kitchen

    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.

  • Jonathan’s Grille Starts to Sizzle

    With innovative and healthful options, high-end furnishings and a unique bar/restaurant approach, two brothers have turned a low-growth mom-and-pop restaurant into one of Nashville's most popular sports bar chains in just four years.

  • Johnny Rockets Prepares for Liftoff

    With two distinct restaurant styles, strong international demand and an operational model that is both simple and flexible, burger-and-fries joint Johnny Rockets is going through a major growth spurt.

  • Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip

    New amenities for both the store and kiosk, along with new menu items, have transformed the concept into more than just a place for treats.

  • Q-BBQ Keeps Smoking

    Chicago-based Q-BBQ makes a name for itself with a menu that covers the country’s best regional barbecue styles and customer service investments not typically seen in the fast-casual sector.