Modern Market on Scaling a Sustainable, Health-Focused Restaurant

An increasing number of restaurants are investing in healthy, sustainable ingredients and sourcing from local farms. However, few of those restaurants are able to successfully expand beyond one location.

Modern Market is one of those exceptions. With 28 restaurants in five states, Modern Market specializes in craft, quality products that are free of chemicals, artificial ingredients, and antibiotics, and are fully made from scratch.

Anthony Pigliacampo co-founded Modern Market with his business partner Robert McColgan in 2009, and the two remain co-CEOs of the company. With a background in mechanical engineering and product design, he initially designed products and services for a number of companies, including McDonald’s. And while he admired McDonald’s ability to quickly scale, he began to imagine a franchised business that could better serve its repeat customers’ health in the long-term.

“I couldn't reconcile how you were supposed to eat out all the time and eat at the places available and not have your health suffer greatly,” says Pigliacampo. “We’ve always hoped to prove that healthier, better for you, more complex food could have the same economic return or better than pure fast food.”

And choosing that concept has proved to be a boon for the company. “The competition is generally focused in clumps,” adds Pigliacampo. “And in our space—the ‘better for you’ one—because it’s a little bit harder, there’s not that many players in it. It’s allowed us to grow a little more unencumbered.”

Navigating an ever-expanding business can be tricky. Having a planned set of economic goals to meet for each new restaurant is critical—and in a crowded market, social media is often insufficient when trying to spread awareness to potential customers of your latest expansion after joining a new market. Even when customers come, new restaurants mean more “failure points” for the overall brand in terms of quality and consistency.

To combat this, Modern Market has “a full suite of online videos for essentially every step in every process that goes on in our restaurants,” says Pigliacampo. “The biggest trend we’re observing with new customers is that the expectation of the guest continues to go up at an extraordinarily high rate… people have a higher level of culinary sophistication than ever before.”

Check out the podcast above to learn more about the Modern Market ethos, the restaurant’s investment in innovation and local supply chains, and what lies ahead for the brand.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Olivia Aleguas

Producer