How Hot Chicken Takeover is Reinventing the Fast Casual Experience

“Our mission is clear now — simply put, we want to keep creating extraordinary experiences for extraordinary people,” says Joe DeLoss.

On this episode of Emerging Brands, Joe DeLoss—the founder of fast casual restaurant chain Hot Chicken Takeover—discusses bringing Nashville-style fried chicken to Columbus, Ohio. Inspired by Nashville restaurant favorites Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack and Monell’s, Joe DeLoss decided to create his own hot chicken restaurant chain.

Monell’s had family-style southern meals every day of the week,” says DeLoss. “You would join a table with ten other people, and I fell in love with the communal experience. Most guests walking into a fast casual restaurant don’t remember being called out or greeted—our question was, how do we build the infrastructure of our restaurant around recreating that communal experience for our guests and employees?”

Over the last decade, Joe DeLoss has worked in a number of industries in an effort to create employment opportunities for people experiencing or who have experienced incarceration, homelessness, and other hardships. Founded in 2014, Hot Chicken Takeover has become a breakout brand in the Midwest. The chain boasts an excellent employee retention rate and an ever-growing customer base.

In this podcast, DeLoss details his retention and employee development goals as well as the core values of the fast casual chain.

The Hot Chicken Takeover team endeavors to operate from a place of “bold humility” in everything they do. “We listen to everything we hear and take it very seriously. Our goal is to acknowledge and address trends that our customers are experiencing before they become large problems,” explains DeLoss. “We know that we can always improve, and we’re unwilling to get in the way of progress. We measure an employee’s performance against that.”

Listen to the above podcast to learn more about the future of Hot Chicken Takeover, and check out our Emerging Brands podcast to hear from other rising leaders in the restaurant industry. You can also download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to check out the full list of emerging brands from Foodable Labs.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To learn more, visit The Modern Chef Network.

How Seeds&Chips Is Building A Platform For Food Innovation

Consumers are rapidly changing the focus of the restaurant and specialty food industry. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion over the next 30 years, Gen Y and Gen Z are investing their time, money, and energy into finding foods that are good for them and good for the planet.

New ingredients, additives, and sources of food have seen massive growth. Plant-based foods, alternative proteins, and healthy halo snacks are just a few of the key categories within the projected $5 billion plant-based market in 2020. Alternative sugars and salts, as well as an increase in fermentation and food recycling practices, are all part of a global movement to grow food more efficiently and sustainably.

On the latest episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron chats with Sharon Cittone, the chief content officer of Seeds&Chips, to discuss how food innovation and agtech are changing the global farming industry.

First envisioned as an event, Seeds&Chips has evolved into a company that connects innovators with global policymakers, startups, speakers, and accelerators to effect change in food culture and advance the possibilities of agtech. The company will hold a summit featuring global food visionaries first in Melbourne, Australia this September, and later in its hometown Milan in May 2020.

“Consumers are leading the way in wanting to be kind to the planet,” says Cittone. “The mission is to bring innovators around the world together to find practical solutions through collaboration and cooperation. We want to make sure there is healthy, safe, and efficient food for everyone.”

The movement will likely face some uphill battles in the years ahead. As Cittone acknowledges, “innovation is growing so rapidly, and policy is lagging behind. As much as we innovate, our global policies can’t keep up.”

Listen to the episode above to learn more about the challenges within the food innovation movement and the future of Seeds&Chips. To binge listen to the Barron Report check us out on iTunes Now!

Research by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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How AB InBev's Sustainability Accelerator is Fostering Start-ups Solving Industry Problems

Consumers have new standards when it comes to the foodservice industry. They are educated when it comes to food sourcing, ingredients, nutrition, technology, environmental practices and more.

The big companies fostering innovation and looking to support companies that solve bigger problems in the industry continue to stay ahead of the curve, while also giving today's consumers exactly what they want.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron sits down with Maisie Devine, global director of sustainability investments & accelerator at AB InBev to learn more about how the company is nurturing start-ups with a focus on sustainability.

So how does a start-up get involved with a partner like AB InBev?

Last August, AB InBev started its search by launching a set of challenge statements, focused on topics like packaging and clean energy. Then the company started accepting applications from companies that have developed some solutions to these industry-wide problems. After receiving 660 applications, there were a lot of companies to consider.

"We were really looking for a little bit later stage companies. That were product ready and that we could implement our resources and our scale to fuel growth for those companies," says Devine.

One of the fun companies Ab InBev select is the Belgium-based concept called Do Eat, which has made compostable and edible packaging from beer and potato waste.

Listen to the episode above to learn more about this unique accelerator program and how these companies are changing the food system for the better.

How Starbird Chicken is Changing the Fast Food Experience

An emerging restaurant brand has to be so much more than just an innovative food concept. Nowadays, the market is highly saturated, especially in the QSR and fast casual segments. 

But emerging brand concepts are outperforming the rest. They are not only doing this by resonating with customers but are also redefining the restaurant business. 

The California-based Starbird Chicken hasn't been just wingin' it. 

"Starbird Chicken is really different from other chicken concepts in that we have modernized the entire food experience. We set out to really reinvent everything from food quality, ingredients, design, and convenience in the fast-food space. We reinvented the experience for the modern consumer," says Aaron Noveshen, founder & president of The Culinary Edge, the parent company of Starbird. 

Noveshen hatched the Starbird concept back in 2014 with the goal to offer a “super premium fast food" experience for guests. But just because the food is served fast, doesn't mean Starbird skimps on food quality. 

"In terms of Starbird staying on top of food quality control, it's a relentless commitment to greatness every single day. But ultimately, we are constantly thinking about new ways to improve our product. We taste it, I'm in the restaurants a lot and we're trying the food all the time and are being highly self-critical," says Noveshen.

Learn what else Starbird Chicken is doing to continue to outshine the competition in today's market in the Emerging Brand podcast above. 

According to Foodable Labs data, chicken increased in mentions by 12.9 percent by millennials and was featured on 82.5% of chefs menus. So, how are you showcasing chicken on your menu? 

Food sourcing plays a pivotal role when it comes to quality and consistency. Finding the right supplier is the first step. Tyson Foods, for example, works with partners to find exactly what they’re looking for. Learn more from Tyson Foods on The Modern Chef Network.

Why This Restaurant Critic is Not Afraid of Losing His Job to Yelpers

In the age of social media platforms and user-created content, is there still a place for the restaurant food critic as we used to know it?

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman, sits down with Jason Sheehan, a former professional chef turned food writer— a venture that lead him to win a James Beard Award and later author several books.

Sheehan, who’s now a restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine, likes “the idea of someone going to a restaurant, having something good or having something awful and then telling people about it.”

“There is a part of me that likes Yelp and other platforms like it. I like the notion of the democratization of restaurant criticism…I have no problem with that whatsoever,” says Sheehan. “What kills me is the weight that it’s given…”

Listen in to this entertaining episode as these two chefs/writers debate the role of media and restaurants in the modern age and why Jason Sheehan is not worried about losing his job to Yelpers!

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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