Chain Profile

Each month, FE&S spotlights a new prototype or kitchen design from a chain restaurant.

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San Jose, Calif.-based Togo’s fast-casual sandwich chain began a major redesign of its stores in 2019.

When there’s nothing but ocean for thousands of miles in every direction, phrases like “locally sourced” and “farm to table” take on a whole new meaning. That’s a lesson Travis Morrin learned early in his career. A chef by training, Morrin is co-founder and chief marketing officer of Fork & Salad, a fast-casual salad and sandwich concept started on the island of Maui.

Catering and off-premises customers represent center-of-the-plate opportunities for this Bay Area fast-casual operation, which should make moves into new markets easier.

The market for craft beer today looks very different than it did back in the late 2000s. While these specialty brews were on the rise then, they could hardly be called mainstream. Today consumers find craft beers up and down the grocery store beer aisle, and craft beer offerings occupy more than their fair share of taps at the average bar.

The moral embedded in Aesop’s “The Hare & the Tortoise” fable didn’t always seem to apply to restaurant businesses in the pre-pandemic world as operators rushed to make a profit and show growth, particularly as more private equity companies invested in restaurants. In that go-go-go world, Foosackly’s remained staunchly committed to the tortoise approach.

Dave Pesso and his family have been interested in the restaurant industry for most of their lives. Growing up in Brooklyn, Pesso started hanging out at the bagel shop down the street at just five years old. Every now and then, he would do an odd job at the shop or run a simple errand for the owner, who would give Pesso a few dollars for the help. By 12 he was bagging bagels and then, at 15, working the register.

Editor's note: Toasted Yolk went to Facebook on March 18 to communicate its COVID-19 operating plans.

In 2010, Matthew DeMott and Chris Milton left their safe, stable jobs with Luby’s restaurant chain to start their own restaurant. The move, DeMott acknowledges, was a gamble. Both had young, growing families at the time, and to finance the venture, they relied on savings and even pulled money out of their retirement accounts.

When they founded Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Scott Redler and brothers Bill and Randy Simon weren’t thinking about starting a chain. They just wanted to open one restaurant that offered quality all the way from food to facilities to service, says Redler.

After tightening its footprint and cleaning up its design, this Cajun concept is ready to move beyond its home base.

This polished-casual concept’s recipe for success includes targeting underserved markets and accommodating guests with food allergies.

The inspiration for a restaurant concept can come from all sorts of places. Chains have emerged from the food someone had on a great vacation, from a barbecue hobby and even from dumb dorm room jokes.

Competition for quality real estate in the restaurant industry is fierce, so simple supply and demand has driven up the price for a piece of land. Naturally, this makes building a new restaurant harder to justify from a dollars and cents perspective, both for concept owners and franchisees.

Sometimes a shock to the system is just what a chain needs to spur growth. That’s clearly the case with Eggs Up Grill.

 Any chain that’s been around for more than 30 years will likely go through some ups and downs. Saladworks is no exception.

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