What's Next for Modern Market Now That the Chain Has Merged with Lemonade?

At the end of last month, the fast casual chain Modern Market merged with Lemonade, a healthy fast casual concept based in L.A.

Although the farm-to-table eatery has teamed up with a fellow fast casual chain, this doesn't mean Modern Market will be closing up shop.

According to Anthony Pigliacampo, Modern Market co-founder, the chain, along with Lemonade will both remain separate identities.

The Modern Market team has lofty goals of expanding and merging with Lemonade is one of the ways they plan to achieve them.

So far, there are 30 Modern Market stores. In 2017, the restaurant's revenue spiked by 27 percent. Then in 2018, five new stores opened and the chain has plans to open three more locations in Colorado this year.

But to expand it takes capital.

About a year ago, the private equity firm Butterfly Equity acquired a majority share of Modern Market.

"We talked to many private equity groups, and we got on well with the team at Butterfly. Their philosophy was like ours. They saw that food was being disrupted. We believed that in restaurants, someone was going to rise and become the best brand and help bring a higher quality food to the masses. And Butterfly had the same world view," said Pigliacampo to "Forbes."

But a year later, Modern Market made the strategic decision to merge with Lemonade.

"With Butterfly’s owning both brands, we realized if we were working together there’s a ton of efficiencies to be gained that would allow us to run certain back-end functions more efficiently. We could provide better resources to solve problems. For example, financing and accounting of two restaurant chains that provide scratch-based menu with many small vendors is a very complicated accounting issue," said Pigliacampo to "Forbes."

What else is to come for the Colorado-based eatery? Read the full interview with Pigliacampo at "Forbes" now.

We have been following Modern Market's growth since the beginning. Pigliacampo was one of the stars of Foodable Network's documentary "Fast Casual Nation: Changing the Way America Eats."

Besides building a loyal customer-base with healthy-focused dishes, Modern Market has been ahead of the curve when it comes to incorporating technology. Check out the blast from the past video below where Pigliacampo outlines how technology enhances the chain's operations.

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.