Building the Next Generation Brand

Building the Next Generation Brand
  • Freshii, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Kabbage discuss what makes a successful restaurant brand

  • Foodable.io session dissects emerging brands and what guiding pinciples matter like people, environment, and profitability

On this Foodable.io Session, FCSI Consultant and Foodable Host Bill Bender gathers some growing companies to discuss top-performing food brands and what is responsible for their growth. While we often explore new advances in technology and innovation in menu development and design, these brands bring it back to the basics.

In this episode, we talk about how treating your employees well impacts your productivity and thus profits, and how your profits come full circle to pay your employees well. We explore meeting your customers where they are and scaling without losing a winning culture. Tune into this episode for all that and more. And be sure to check out the rest of Foodable’s .io content on our On-Demand Page and on Foodable+.

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SoBe Wine & Food Festival Gives FIU Students Real-World Experience

SoBe Wine & Food Festival Gives FIU Students Real-World Experience
  • Lee Brian Schrager is the architect of SoBeWFF. Going on 17 years, the festival has become one of the nation's best. 

  • A hundred percent of the proceeds from the South Beach Wine and Food Festival benefits FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Lee Brian Schrager is the founder and director of SoBeWFF.  The festival is entering its 17th year and has become one of the premier culinary events in the country.  Every year, students from Florida International University (FIU) get the opportunity to work with the greatest chefs and minds in the restaurant industry.  The experience provides the students with invaluable education and training that can not be overstated.  On top of that, 100 percent of the proceeds benefit FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  Watch the video for more on how Lee created the SoBeWFF and forged the partnership with Food Network and Florida International University.

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With The Focus On Casual-Dining, What Is The Future Of Our Industry?

In this episode of On Foodable Weekly, guest host, Eric Cacciatore, the man behind Restaurant Unstoppable, sits down with Michael Cheng, director of the Food and Beverage Program at Florida International University  and Christopher Koetke, vice president of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College. They talk about how FIU and Kendall College are preparing the next generation of food industry leaders— millennials studying hospitality or in culinary school— through the introduction of culture within the restaurant business.

Understanding Food Culture

Culture could mean many different things, especially when talking about food and the restaurant business, as a whole. Culinary students learn about international cultures through the diverse dishes they are taught to make, cultures within the food world, and amongst other topics, business culture within foodservice.

As Koetke explains, culinary school means more than just mastering soft skills, like “learning how to chop something.” He believes business skills, nutrition and sustainability are critical to the development of a sound food business culture.

“Food has gotten really competitive, and it’s hard to say, to do food better than we’re already doing it… What’s going to make you successful in this industry is how well your culture is, how well you take care of your employees, how well you tell your story through your brand, creating something that means something, that people want to be a part of… What trends are you seeing in culture, in that regard?” asks Cacciatore.

From Chef Hats to Baseball Caps

Cheng replies “When you’re moving into the casual dining environment, you’re no longer wearing ‘chef whites,’ you know? They are wearing aprons and baseball caps in the kitchen,” says the Malaysian-native whose passion lies in restaurant management. “... I think it’s not because they don’t respect the chef’s white jackets, but really more the focus is on the food and the quality of the food and the experience that the customer gets from it.”

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Sweat the Small Stuff?

“The difference between a very good restaurant and a truly great restaurant is just a million details,” says Chris Koetky. “...it’s not that they are somehow doing something [monumentally] different, okay? But what they’ve managed to do is get all the pieces in place and do all of them really well, they treat their employees well, they know how to manage them well, they get the greatest products, they have design features that are done really well, their bathrooms are exquisite.”

Trend To Watch

It may sound cliche, but like with trends in the fashion world, what’s old now becomes new in a matter of years, sometimes decades. Who knows how long it will be until it is true for the fine-dining industry, but one thing is for sure… experience is king and it may just be a matter of time until a specific type of experience resurfaces to become the next hot thing. At least that’s what Koetky, believes:

“People say fine-dining is dead, I think it’s just… I think the focus has moved away, but now there’s an opportunity,” says Koetky, who has traveled all over the world and can attest that casual-dining is fast growing in popularity. “I recently ate in a great fine-dining restaurant, I mean like... old school… And I walked out and I said, you know “All this casual stuff, is awesome, you know? But that experience…” (Looks like it left him speechless.)

Watch the episode to learn more about trends within the foodservice business culture and tips when hiring millennials!

How The Organic Coup is Cleaning Fast Food, One Chicken at a Time

While some consumers may believe fast food is a fast track to unhealthy eating, The Organic Coup hatched a new idea when it comes to chicken. This brand became the first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant, confirmed by their certifying agency, CCOF.

"We were shocked to find out we were first," founder Erica Welton said.

This concept was inspired by the team's years of working at Costco Wholesale, and the push for social change in foodservice became the foundation of the business. The name began as a typo for the word "coop," but "coup" was also fitting: coup is defined as a takeover, and that's exactly what this restaurant is doing — taking over the fast food industry with a new, organic attitude, proving that fast food has the potential to be good food.

"We want to serve the highest-quality product at a fair price," Welton said. "I'm also a mom of two young boys. [I'm] very passionate about what goes into my kids' food. Chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and as a food buyer for Costco, learning more and more about what is getting put into our food — it was scary."

The Menu

Organic efforts could become complex, but The Organic Coup's operation is simple.

"We are not going to be a restaurant that has 50 items on the menu," Welton said.

The Coup Signature Sandwich is made up of chicken sourced locally from Mary's Free Range Organic Air-Chilled Chicken. The breasts are soaked in buttermilk, hand-breaded, and fried in coconut oil — honestly, the most expensive oil they could choose, but it is low in cholesterol and high in vitamin A. The menu also consists of a wrap and a bowl, and all buns are toasted and wraps are steamed to order. 

The restaurant also offers unique sauces, from spicy BBQ ranch, sesame ginger, mustard Vinaigrette, and more. Guests with a sweet tooth can also nibble on their organic popcorn, drizzled in caramel and with either white or dark chocolate. 

The Philosophy

More than about making fast food good food, The Organic Coup is about being good to the environment, too. Their chicken is air-chilled, a tactic used in Europe and Canada. Unlike the water chlorine bath method used in the United States, air-chilled facilities save 30,000 gallons of water every day.

The tables at the restaurant also have a touch of sustainability, as they are made from reclaimed wood (and were even built by Welton's father. All the restaurant's cleaning supplies and pest control are also organic certified. And to continue the education of their staff, The Organic Coup has a wall dedicated to going back to the basics, emphasizing the importance of non-GMO and hormone use.

"You know, I think it's very difficult to cheat Mother Nature, and in the end, there is always a price to pay. To disrupt such an old mentality on the way food was being brought to people just seemed like a lot of fun," Welton said.

Power to the chicken! Want to learn more about how this restaurant is rewriting fast food? Watch the full episode now.