How the Emerging Brand and Shark Tank-Backed OatMeals Ventures to Define a New Fast Casual Category

Emerging brands continue to outperform the pack of cornerstone restaurants brands over the past year and the category breakouts are in a race for leadership. Take the crowded fast casual pizza category that now has a clear leader that has prevailed in Mod Pizza.

More and more category challengers are being created in a variety of segments today.

When you analyze the healthy halo category, it’s being dominated by sweetgreen and Tender Greens with new challengers like Lemonade and Flower Child.

Fresh Mex has been holding strong with Chipotle, however, they have seen some fall off in the dominance they once had in meal occasions. This leads us to a much more fragmented field of new category leaders.

OatMeals, on the other hand, is one of these unusual but potentially new category entries that could set a new standard for what it means to innovate at the brand level.

I had a chance to sit down with Founder and CEO Samantha Stephens of OatMeals, a one-unit NYC concept that is aiming to transform what was once a breakfast only menu item into an entire category for menu innovation.

Join me and watch this episode of The Barron Report above as we discuss how consumers are responding to this unusual brand, what it takes to launch a concept like this, and what it was like to present to the sharks on hit TV show "Shark Tank" and actually get a deal with Lori Greiner to build out the brand concept with an entirely new approach to brand building.

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.

15 Restaurant Brands to Watch in 2019

When looking back on 2018, it was apparent that there were a clear group of concepts that were starting to separate from the pack in the restaurant industry. Restaurant closures topped at 50K closed locations in 2018– so the market seemed to have some correction.

While we did see some closings of lower performers in casual dining with Applebee’s alone closing over 250 locations in the past two years, the good news was the emerging brand's sector saw significant growth. This sector showed better performance in 2018 than any other brand groups.

These emerging brands consist of about 250 total brands that have multiple locations and are starting to take control of categories. Make sure to check out our 2018 Emerging Brands Report and to be on the lookout for our 2019 list.

sweetgreen-logo

All that said, my 15 brands to watch for 2019 are led by a group of leaders that I think have some unique and interesting aspects that put them in the limelight.

For example, Sweetgreen is setting a new standard of what it means to be a restaurant. The restaurant has morphed into a lifestyle brand or platform that will prove to be a new strategy for several brands that have the following.

lemonade restaurant logo

Lemonade is one of these as well and what separates the brand from the pack is its quality and the brand connection that is prevailing in a big way with guests. If they continue on a growth strategy this could be a player in the healthy halo sector very quickly.

Mod Pizza logo

Mod Pizza is another in this group that has clearly won the fast-casual pizza wars, now with over 400 locations and a management team that is geared toward people and culture this brand could be one to bet on.

Cava restaurant logo

My special mention would be Cava, while not on my 15 brands to watch, their acquisition of the Mediterranean fast-casual chain Zoe’s Kitchen creates both opportunities and challenges that I think are worth mentioning. They also have a rockstar group of investors that are a good reason to keep an eye on them.

Don't miss the episode of The Barron Report above where I break down why these brands have that X-factor.