How the Urbane Cafe Plans to Conquer the Fast Casual Bakery Category

Many brand leaders today are faced with the decision to either upgrade their financial partners or to continue on their own.

Tom Holt of Urbane Cafe, saw value in forging a partnership and decided to team up with Industry Veterans Andrew and Peggy Cherng, the co-founders of the Chinese fast food chain Panda Express, to grow the brand. Urbane Cafe has quickly become a California staple for guests seeking out high quality products at a great value.

The unique fast casual concept is taking a bakery café to a whole new level with its featured bread baking center and solid menu items where simple food matters most. The chain evidently resonates with guests, which is also one of our Top 150 Emerging Brands for 2018.

With Panera Bread and Core Life Eatery taking the top spots in the Bakery/Café category in our Foodable Labs Index of the Top 150 Brands, Urbane Cafe is on the move and set to challenge even the hardcore performers of 2018.

Holt an ex-motocrosser understands the aspect of competition and is building a concept that is set to thrive in the saturated market. The brand has got the holeshot (a motocross term meaning a driver who has the strongest start). This paired with the investment from Panda Express founders will parlay into a controlled but aggressive growth plan.

Understanding the guest connection is the key with any great CEO. Holt has a key understanding of what the communities are seeking and has figured out a way to deliver the full package of great food, experience, ambiance, and performance as a rising brand.

If any weakness exists, it will be in the crowded fast casual sandwich segment in California as well as pressure from the vegan and healthy halo category leaders like Veggie Grill, sweetgreen, and Tendergreens.

As we see more performance from the Emerging Brands of 2019, we will be sure to update you with some of the latest trends and traction they are getting in the market. Be on the lookout for more Emerging Brands CEO specials on The Barron Report soon!


11:08 - Addressing New Consumer Eating Styles

13:42 - Business Trends

20:26 - Social Responsible Restaurants

24:04 - Higher Labor Costs

27:50 - Menu Development and Culinary Trends

:50 - Welcoming Tom Holt

1:33 - Urbane Cafe, the Pioneer in the Fast Casual Bakery

4:47 - Building an Emerging Brand

7:12 - Panda Express Investment

9:15 - 5 Year Road Map

Produced by:

Rachel Brill

Rachel Brill

Social Producer


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.

Produced by:

Rachel Brill

Rachel Brill

Social Producer


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.

Be sure to download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Guide to see Foodable Lab's full list of emerging brands.

Investing in Talent Has Been Key In Tupelo Honey's Success

Investing in Talent Has Been Key In Tupelo Honey's Success

On this episode, top executives from emerging brand Tupelo Honey share with Foodable valuable insight on building an engaging lifestyle brand. Tyler Alford, Vice President of Operations, believes it all starts with hiring the right people and he attributes this philosophy to Tupelo Honey’s CEO, Steve Frabitore. Eric Gabrynowicz, Vice President of Culinary and Corporate Executive Chef of Tupelo Honey, is an example of this philosophy. He brought over to the brand tons of experience when he joined the team in 2016, having worked at Danny Meyer’s acclaimed Union Square Cafe in New York City onto eventually opening his own restaurant, and becoming a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist.

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