Emerging Brand Series: McAlister's Deli Looks to the Future with Joe Guith

On this episode, seasoned food industry leader, Joe Guith, President of McAlister’s Deli®, shares with Foodable insightful information about the future outlook of the brand.

Within the course of the next year McAlister’s Deli plans to continue to elevate its menu to offer more premium items.

“We know that our guests want more from us and we can offer more and so you can expect to see that start in our soup lineup and more to salads, sides and even more spuds and sandwiches from a premium standpoint,” said Guith.

Sign up for Foodable+ to get the chance to listen to this interview and more from leaders like Joe Guith.

For more inspirational stories from these restaurant industry leaders, listen to the Emerging Brands Podcast on Foodable+ and be sure to download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to see Foodable Lab's full list of emerging brands.

Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Differentiates Itself from the Rest In the Category

On this episode of On Foodable filmed at Foodable.io Seattle sponsored by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, we get to learn a little from Rob Bigelow, Senior Director of Wine Education and On Premise Development at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, about a New Zealand winery—Villa Maria Wine Estate—that the company is in partnership with.

“When I think about New Zealand and the wines, obviously the first answer is Sauvignon Blanc,” says Bigelow.
Some of the characteristics of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which make up two-thirds to three-quarters of all the vineyards in the region, are: “... crisp, aromatic, lovely, perfect with seafood,” as mentioned by Bigelow.

The wine that is featured in this episode is the Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, which is top rated at 90 points.

“The Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc has a sort of a broader mid-palate which means it’s lusher on the palette more sort of melon, floral aromas…,” says Bigelow. The grapes are actually sourced from a combination of two valleys in the Marlborough region, which helps provide maximum flavor, balance, and quality to the wine.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is a collection of distinctive wines estates, located in the Pacific Northwest, California, and abroad. The company provides administrative and financial support for each wine property it does business with. Ste. Michelle’s company philosophy is to allow each wine estate/vineyard to have all wine-making decisions “made on site by the people who grow the grapes and make the wine” as stated in the company website.

Villa Maria Wine Estates, for example, is a family-owned winery located in Marlborough island and is recognized as New Zealand’s most awarded winery thanks to its winemaker being fanatical about quality. The winery focuses on low yields and discards all imperfect grapes.

Watch the episode above to learn more about Villa Maria Wine Estates and its sustainability efforts!

Female-Led Funding Startup, AccelFoods Helps Other Food-Focused Startups like Soozy's Thrive

Ever wondered how grocery stores will look like five years from now?

This is something Jordan Gaspar, co-founder of AccelFoods, thinks about daily.

AccelFoods is a funding startup that invests in other startups that have the potential of disrupting food categories in the grocery aisles and beyond through their innovative products.

On this episode of The Barron Report, our host Paul Barron speaks with Gaspar and Susan Chen, CEO of Soozy’s, a frozen, gluten-free baked good product company that has partnered with AccelFoods in order to grow its business. The three discuss how the relationship has been between the venture capitalist group and the investee, Soozy’s role in its snacking category, what types of companies AccelFoods seeks to invest on, and trends in the marketplace among other topics.

Listen above to learn more about these trailblazing companies!


Show Notes:

  • 01:43 - Purpose of AccelFoods

  • 03:48 - Soozy’s Role in the Frozen Food Segment

  • 05:47 - AccelFoods’ Investment in Soozy’s

  • 09:26 - Types of Companies AccelFoods Invests In

  • 10:47 - Trends In The Marketplace

  • 14:38 - Soozy’s Differentiator in Snacking Category

  • 17:52 - Product Packaging

  • 23:16 - Size of Companies AccelFoods Invests In

  • 26:09 - Macro Understanding of Food Industry

  • 28:00 - Impact of Social Media for Soozy’s

  • 29:58 - Future Growth Plans for Soozy’s

  • 31:52 - Challenges in Male-Dominated Venture Capitalist World

 
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How Which Wich Differentiates Itself from Competitors With Its Menu and Ordering System

High-quality ingredients are the driving force motivating consumers to visit better-for-you concepts. Some of these concepts are highlighted in Foodable’s free Top 50 Sandwich Innovator guide and report.

To give you a sneak peek into one of the sandwich innovator concepts in the list, we decided to visit Which Wich and meet with its founder, Jeff Sinelli.

Sinelli founded the first Which Wich in Dallas in late 2003. Now, this brand can be found in its 500 locations in 40 states and 12 countries.

“I was looking for the next thing to do and I was eating a lot of sandwiches at the time… and I just realized I thought I could do it better,” said Sinelli.

One of Which Wich’s biggest differentiators is its customization capabilities in their ordering system. They encourage their customers to write their name on their orders and personalize their sandwiches by checking off what ingredients they want to be included right on the sandwich bag.

Which Wich is not Sinelli’s first venture.

Prior to this sandwich concept, Which Wich’s Chief Vibe Officer had developed dozens of successful independent restaurants, bars and nightclubs before deciding to focus on national concepts—like Genghis Grill, a Mongolian barbecue chain Sinelli had created in 1998, grew to 11 stores in 5 states, and sold in 2003.

Which Wich has been Sinelli’s most successful business venture and he attributes a large part of the concept’s popularity to its diversified menu.

“We have a full spectrum of things for anyone who eats sandwiches. I want the food to be craveable, unique, and things you can only get at Which Wich… I think quality is about the elevation of food and people together and that’s what we try to provide at Which Wich,” said Sinelli.

To learn about some of Sinelli’s favorite menu items check out the video above! And to learn the ranking score of this innovative sandwich restaurant and others, be sure to check out our free Top 50 Sandwich Innovator report brought to you by Miss Vickie’s! Want to listen all about the concept that was ranked No. 1? Be sure to check out The Barron Report’s latest episode with Hunter Pond founder of East Hampton!

Why East Hampton Leads The Top 50 Sandwich Innovators List

After a quick stint at law school, Hunter Pond decided his true passion laid with the restaurant business.

“I just felt this gravitational pull to the industry and it was strong enough... [that] I dropped out of law school after one semester,” said Pond. “...It was a rough three months trying to convince everybody that this was the right move for me.”

On this episode of The Barron Report, our host, Paul Barron, sits down with Hunter Pond, CEO of East Hampton Sandwich Co. to learn how this concept came to be and made its way to become the top Sandwich Innovator concept from our free Top 50 Sandwich Innovator Report.

East Hampton

“I studied the marketplace and I saw that the key differentiator in all of the fast casual sandwich players out there was the bread,” said Pond.

According to Pond, everything that went in between the breads tasted the same, from the lettuce and tomatoes to the meats.

“I kind of looked at it as a mathematical equation and thought, ‘if we could just figure out a way… to utilize our kitchen to focus on what goes in between the bread, I can outsource the bread baking to local European-style bakeries and that would produce, in theory, a higher quality product,” said Pond.

Hunter Pond wanted East Hampton to be the ingredient artisan of the sandwich category while partnering with a bread artisan to provide best sandwich possible to consumers.

Take a listen to the podcast above to learn more about East Hampton’s beginnings and future plans!

Show Notes

  • 00:51 - Top 50 Sandwich Innovator Report

  • 02:18 - How Hunter Pond Got His Start

  • 05:50 - Inspiration for East Hampton

  • 07:25 - Key Differentiator in the Fast Casual Sandwich Segment

  • 09:13 - Consumer Driver Is Ingredient Quality

  • 10:27 - Quality Beyond The Food

  • 13:03 - Future Plans for East Hampton

  • 15:47 - Sourcing

  • 24:21 - Instagram

  • 27:42 - Hiring & Real Estate Challenges

  • 30:40 - Hunter Pond’s Industry Outlook

About the Report

The free Top 50 Sandwich Innovator Report is based off a sandwich study conducted by our sister company, Foodable Labs. “We put together a study that looked a consumer sentiment around mentions of their favorite sandwiches and then we poured out the shops and concepts that came out on top through our algorithm…,” says Barron. That’s the same algorithm that ranks Foodable’s Top 25 Restaurants in each city, for example.

 
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