Authenticity and Innovation Make up the Secret Sauce for Emerging Fast Casual Brands

In this episode of On Foodable Weekly, our host, Paul Barron, discusses emerging brands and how to be successful in the fast casual space. To shed light on this topic, Chris Schultz, Senior Vice President of MOD Pizza, and Eric Cacciatore, founder and host of the podcast: Restaurant Unstoppable, stopped by our remote set in Chicago to share their experience and knowledge.

A Clear Mission Is Key

Eric Cacciatore, the man behind the restaurant podcast empowering independent restaurant owners/operators to be successful, believes that fast casual brands with a purpose and story that resonates with their base consumer are the ones coming out on top.

“Society in general is trending towards the why, the reason behind everything...,” said Eric Cacciatore, who started his Restaurant Unstoppable podcast as a pupil to the restaurant industry and hopes of opening his own restaurant concept one day.

Cacciatore has learned that “...those brands that really do what they say they do, and live their brands… And their brands, are actually a reflection of what they are… they are not trying to be anything, they just are...” will be the brands coming out on top.

Chris Schultz agrees that authenticity is necessary because so much information is now available at everyone’s fingertips and this allows people to see right through a brand’s identity.

For MOD Pizza, millennials are not only their customer base but also this segment makes up their workforce. 

“The millennial folks want to stand for something and want to believe in what they are doing,” said Schultz. “I think other organizations are starting to realize they have to do that… That’s the ticket now, is to be involved in something and to stand for something more than just profits.”

Challenges Ahead

According to Cacciatore, bigger is not necessarily better, when looking to expand one's business and grow as a brand.

“It’s how well you do it and how well you develop that culture, how well you care for your people and developing them, mentoring them, giving them the skills the knowledge to be successful,“ said Cacciatore.

Schultz comments that innovation will be the biggest challenge yet for the industry as an emerging brand.

“At MOD we continue to innovate. Whether it’s on a product perspective or the way consumers want it, right? Whether it’s fast, digital, third-party delivery— whatever that looks like…,” said Schultz, who has been working for MOD Pizza since the very early stages. “At MOD, we consistently look and see: What’s out there?... Not just today, but six, 12 months from now, so we can get ahead of that curve.”

Watch the episode above to learn about MOD Pizza’s company culture and where these show guests think the market for emerging brands is going to be in the next five years!