Emerging Brands and How These Restaurants are Redefining the Foodservice Space

With the competition that the saturated restaurant industry market brings, a restaurant has to really stand out to today’s consumer to be successful.

There is now a category of restaurant that Foodable has coined as Emerging Brand, these are the restaurants that are redefining the restaurant business with innovation, and creativity by taking the road less traveled.

These brands have developed a secret recipe that works and keeps the guests coming back.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we interviewed Kyle Noonan, restauranteur of FreeRange Concepts, Christina Bourg, SVP of Rotolo's and Jack Gibbons, president and COO of Front Burners Restaurants– all three leaders from emerging brand restaurants to see how these concepts continue to outperform the rest.

“As an emerging brand, we are just much more agile. So we can predict or see trends in the market and make things happen really quickly,” says Bourg.

Gibbons has also noticed as an emerging brand being able to recognize a need in the market and then quickly adapting to meet the demand is often how the restaurant becomes an instant success.

“We have an emerging brand called Velvet Taco and when we opened our first one, we were near late night bars so we stayed open until 5 in the morning to meet an unmet need in the marketplace. We have lines of people who are very young and totally into tacos at 3, 4, 5 in the morning,” says Gibbons. “A big established company just wouldn’t do that.”

But sometimes it's also just about being the new, cool kid on the block.

“There’s a lot to being just new and fresh in the industry. Consumers just want the newest, coolest, freshest thing. So the emergence of a lot of new brands that are dialed into what the consumers are wanting, especially the millennial crowd at Velvet Taco or we have a concept called Mutts Cantina which is our fast casual brand and it’s quick-serve, it’s fresh, it’s cool. There’s a little bit of clout to shopping at the brand,” says Noonan.

Want more tips from these emerging brand leaders? Check out the video above or the full interview is also now exclusively available on Foodable On-Demand here.

Fast Casual Insiders Share Their Brand Identity and Future Goals

In this episode of On Foodable Weekly, our host Paul Barron sits down with the founders and CEOs of three of the 12 fast-casual brands thriving in the industry. These brands have been able to sustain themselves through a significant downturn (5.4%) for the category. So we find out what they are doing differently to remain successful.

Randy Dewitt from Velvet Taco, Nedal Ahmad from Pincho Factory and Michael Lastoria from &pizza, stopped by our remote set in Chicago to speak candidly about their brands.

 “So, what are you doing that you’re sustaining when you start seeing other concepts loose ground?,” asks Paul Barron.

The founders of Velvet Taco, a Texas brand which serves international flavors in taco form, and Pincho Factory, a Florida brand that serves two menus simultaneously, made up of everything from plantain burgers to kebab salads; admit they are not doing anything too different.

Dewitt who plans to grow Velvet Taco’s dedicated team within the next five years, manages and shares resources with seven other concepts including– Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, and Sixty Vines. He assures that “extending open hours to let more people discover the brand” is something they are doing different. 

Ahmad, who claims his most mature store is up 18% and youngest store is up 10% over last year’s numbers, focuses on simply maintaining a positive experience for his Pincho Factory guests.

“Happy people equal happy guests. And the rest sort of takes care of itself,” said Ahmad, who is working on scaling Pincho Factory’s culture while protecting the soul and authenticity of the kitchens, within the next five years.

On the other hand, &pizza founder reveals that he allocates his resources to making sure his employees, or “tribe members,” as they call themselves, are getting better at certain disciplines.

“I’m not a restaurant guy. I’m not a food guy… I didn’t come from the space. I’m an advertising guy. And it for me, it’s about investment in our team, our people…,” assures Lastoria. “You can’t ever rest on the success you had today, the success you had in the past, so really forward-looking.”

Watch the episode above to learn more about what these brands are all about and what sets them apart!

The Rise of the Gourmet Taco Concepts

The Rise of the Gourmet Taco Concepts

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

As the competitive landscape of the restaurant industry gets more crowded, we are seeing more emerging concepts that have a narrower focus.

There are comfort food concepts serving primarily an array of grilled cheeses and mac & cheese. There are restaurants that offer menus made up of entirely meatballs. Even, Arepas concepts have emerged.

Similarly, to the gourmet burger segment, a new segment is on the rise. Gourmet tacos.

“Fresh Mex” remains a wildly popular and successful segment, especially in fast casual. But, these gourmet taco concepts deserve to be categorized on their own.

So what are some of the elevated taco concepts gaining traction in this market? And why consumers by the masses are visiting these places?

We decided to sit down with three executives from different taco-focused restaurants to see what makes each of these concepts unique and why consumers are gravitating to them.

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