Tom Holt, Founder and CEO of Urbane Cafe, Shares His Thoughts On Sustaining Growth

On this episode, Tom Holt, Founder and CEO of Urbane Cafe, shares with Foodable insightful information about focusing on the consumer and their demands to sustain growth.

“If you nail down your culture in your restaurant, and you have the right systems and processes in place, those are the areas you can create a winning brand,” said Holt.

Holt emphasizes on setting the culture for your brand that both your team and guests can understand. Whether a brand is within the start-up phases or an already-existing restaurant, setting up the culture and mission statements are the most influential decisions.

Urbane Cafe opened in 2003 in Holt’s hometown of Ventura, Calif. The idea was to create a true community café that focused on quality, healthy and satisfying meals. The concept revolves around a hearth oven, providing freshly baked bread made to order.

Listen to the podcast here to learn more about Urbane Cafe and the future Tom Holt is spearheading!

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.

Produced by:

Rachel Brill

Rachel Brill

Social Producer


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Danny Meyer-Backed Fast Casual Pizza Concept Transitions to Full-Service

It appears as though the Danny Meyer-backed pizza concept Martina wasn't performing as well as a fast casual concept. The New York pizzeria has transited from the fastcasual format to full-service.

The Union Square Hospitality Group, which started the fast casual success Shake Shack, closed Martina last week to complete the revamp.

The new restaurant opened back up Monday and is serving bigger portions and a new menu.

The menu includes more wine selections and a new Reuben with mortadella, artichoke slaw, and cheese.

Martina was opened in August of 2017 by the renowned chef Nick Anderer as a more affordable version of his restaurant Marta. Before the revamp, people would order at the counter then pick up their thin-crust pizzas at the counter after their buzzer went off.

Although this format has been proven successful for the better-burger chain Shake Shack, Martina has much more competition in the pizza market. Not only is it in a city known for its thinly slice pizza slices, but the pizza fast casual market is now much more saturated.

There's Blaze pizza, Mod Pizza, &pizza– just to name a few of the pizza-focused fast casuals rapidly expanding across the country.

Then Pizza's consumer Sentiment is down too. Customers are ordering pizza-less.

According to Foodable labs data, Pizza delivery is down by 18.5 percent year over year. This is partly because the quality of the pizza being delivered most of the time isn't up to customers' standard.

Will this influence guests to visit pizza fast casual concepts in store more? Or have guests developed a taste from different cuisines as more fast casual chains have emerged serving new exciting cuisines like Mediterranean food?

But USHG isn't giving up on the pizza concept, instead, the group is aiming to elevate it. Its rare for a restaurant to transition into a more formal format as the demand for on-the-go food becomes more widespread.

Do you think this revamp will pay off?

Read more about Martina's big change at "Eater" now.

Foodable Labs tracks over six million influencers and over 100 pizza chains. Want to find out what else is causing the slip in pizza Sentiment? Watch the video about the decline in pizza delivery below.

Plant-based Meat Gets Pushback From Missouri and France

As more consumers gravitate to plant-based diets, multiple vegan companies have emerged to provide more options that fit into these consumers' lifestyle.

While Beyond Meat just filed an IPO, this plant-based burger company, along with others in the market appear to be facing legal challenges from the state of Missouri and the country France.

"In France, you can now be fined 300,000 euros (about $343,000) if you “use ‘steak,’ ‘sausage,’ or any other meat term to describe products that are not partly or wholly made up of meat,” BBC reports. This rule also applies to dairy alternatives," writes "Fortune."

Even using the a term before steak like "soy steak" isn't allowed.

Missouri passed similar legislation this year over the legal term of meat.

"Missouri lawmakers earlier this year banned food marketers from marketing a product as meat if it’s not made of livestock or poultry. The fine for violations can run as high as $1,000, and you can end up incarcerated in a penitentiary," writes "Fortune."

But as "Fortune" points out– why isn't peanut butter forced to adhere to these types of laws That's because some meat companies are declaring war on plant-based meat.

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association pushed for the law and then in France, a cattle rancher sponsored the bill.

While some are trying to halt the plant-based companies’ growth, others are jumping on the veggie meat bandwagon.

Tyson Foods invested in Beyond Meat back in 2017 and then in Memphis Meats, a lab-created meat company.

“We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business, but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices," said Justin Whitmore, executive vice president corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods when the company invested in Memphis Meats.

Cargill also invested in Memphis Meats saying it was a move "all about sustainability."

Read more about these laws barring plant-based products from using the term meat at “Fortune” now.

Will more laws like this arise? And how will Beyond Meat respond?

We recently covered Beyond Meat's massive growth and the company's decision to go public on an episode of The Barron Report. Watch the video below to see how this company's Wall Street move will impact the plant-based industry.

Beyond Meat Goes Public

A few weeks ago, there were rumors that the plant-based company Beyond Meat was planning to go public before the end of the year.

Well, these rumors ended up being true because last Friday, Beyond Meat filed an initial public offering for $100 million.

Beyond Meat reported $56.4 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2018, which is a 167 percent spike from last year.

"Going forward, we intend to continue to invest in innovation, supply chain capabilities, manufacturing and marketing initiatives," said the company in the filing.

The plant-based market is growing at a rapid rate as more consumers gravitate to a vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle.

Plant-based consumption is up over 300 percent over the last year, according to our Foodable Labs data.

The Good Food Institute (GFI) has also released market data from Nielsen showing that the sales of this sector have recently exceeded $3.7 billion and that plant-based meat sales specifically have increased by 23 percent.

Beyond Meat was one the first companies to offer a vegan burger and quickly emerged as one of the biggest players in the plant-based protein market.

Besides being the first plant-based burger to be sold in the meat section at Whole Foods, the company has partnered with restaurants and food distributors across the country to get the Beyond Burger on more menus.

Beyond Meat has sold over 25 million veggie burgers that are "the closest thing to meat" ever created, boasts the company.

But the company has developed a product mimicking meat for a reason. Its target demographic aren't vegans and vegetarians, instead, it's flexitarians who may eat meat but choose not to often because of its environmental impact.

"Instead of marketing and merchandising The Beyond Burger to vegans and vegetarians (who represent less than 5% of the U.S. population), we request that the product be sold in the meat case at grocery retailers, where meat-loving consumers are accustomed to shopping for center-of-plate proteins," writes the company in the filing.

The Beyond Burger is now available in 11,000 grocery stores across the country.

Read more about Beyond Meat going public at "CNN."

Don’t miss The Barron Report episode below where Paul Barron goes into more detail about the plant-based company’s move to go public.

How Sweetgreen is Becoming the Next Fast Casual Unicorn

On this episode of the Barron Report Live, host Paul Barron discusses which wing-focused restaurant brand is taking on pizza for the next Super Bowl, the fire sale of Diageo’s liquor brands, and how Sweetgreen becoming the next food unicorn in the fast casual industry.

Wings Take on Pizza in Super Bowl Challenge
At :35 - Paul discusses the growth of the popular takeout brand, Wingstop. The chicken-wing fast casual chain has seen a 15.5 percent increase in annual growth last quarter, with systemwide same-store sales also growing by 6.3 percent, and its net income jumping 33.8 percent.

The increase in store count to 1,215 global locations, is pretty major move compared to growth in the fast casual segment is slowing down overall. Additionally, the company’s strategy and lack of direct competition are leading them to take over the takeout industry over pizza.

Diageo to Sell Off 19 of Its Brands
At 5:00 - Paul discusses Diageo’s, the world’s largest spirits producer, decision to sell 19 of its lower-end spirits brands to Sazerac for $550 million. The strategy appears to allow Diageo to focus on its premium labels.

This decision will allow the company to take on the trending craft spirits market. Paul has seen firsthand when filming the Foodable show “Across the Bar,” just how often mixologists have opted for a more unique craft cocktail brand.

Sweetgreen to Become the Next Fast Casual Unicorn?
At 6:31 - Paul discusses the biggest news of the week — how salad chain Sweetgreen is quickly becoming the next fast casual market leader.

Foodable identified early on that this concept would be a breakout brand in the fast casual market. With Sweetgreen’s HQ move to Los Angeles in 2016 to join other tech-focused restaurants that are raising money in private rounds at valuations of $1 billion or more, they are here to stay. “CNBC” recently reported that Sweetgreen is nearing a $200 million investment with Fidelity Investments.

The key to Sweetgreen’s success like other fast casual stars is to have a unique,  Xactor. For the salad chain, it’s all about lifestyle. Showcased in previous events like the Sweetlife festival, Sweetgreen is able to connect with their consumers celebrating passion and purpose.

Another brand that has been able to achieve this in the past is Chipotle, controlling the burrito business with ambiance, food, and environment compared to Baja Fresh.

In recent news revolving Chipotle, hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has sold another large chunk of its Chipotle Mexican Grill investment. The affiliated entities have reportedly sold a total of 118,307 shares of the fast casual chain for a total of $55.8 million.

Watch the live podcast above to learn Paul’s predictions for the fast casual market and what he believes to be next for these two stars, what other factors are playing into Wingstop’s impressive acceleration and its edge in takeout, and to find out which brands are being sold to Sazerac.