Clove Fills Mediterranean Gap in Fast Casual

Video Produced by Denise Toledo

Clove Mediterranean Kitchen was inspired by two partners with different experiences in the foodservice industry. Alex Revynthis has an extensive background in the food and beverage industry, most recently at Costa Coffee as their chief financial officer. Spiro Naos opened a number of Miami Subs sandwich shops before getting involved in other ventures. After meeting in New York, the duo decided to partner up on a Mediterranean fast casual concept.

While fast casual is the fastest-growing segment of the industry, the Clove team noticed the lack of Mediterranean options in the space — especially Mediterranean cuisine that focused on the simple, clean ingredients important to traditional cuisine. After being introduced to Greek Celebrity Chef Andreas Lagos, the pair knew he was the right guy to develop their menu.

Lagos studied cooking and pastry in Athens, Greece. He won a gold medal for Mediterranean cooking in Crete and was the head chef of Tomato in Santorini. With five books, Lagos is an authority on Mediterranean cuisine. That’s why it was important to him to import ingredients like honey and olive oil from Greece while also getting fresh produce from local vendors.

“The most important thing is ingredient, ingredient, ingredient. Fresh ingredient. We use a lot of olive oil, greek yogurt, greek honey, greek feta cheese,” said Lagos.

The consumer base in the business sector of Miami Beach is mostly executives with little time to spare for lunch. Executive chef and general manager at Clove, Daniel Becker, says that knowing their customers is critical in getting them through the door.

“Their dining or lunch choices are predicated on how fast can they have it, how healthy is it and what the quality and taste is,” he said.

In addition to clean ingredients, craft beer and sodas have been a major trend in fast casuals. While Clove offers local craft brews and cane sugar sodas, they also produce their own line of natural juices like Cardamom Apple Basil and Pomegranate Apple Mint.

Learn more about how Clove is going the extra mile on this episode of "Fast Casual Nation."

Traditional German Döner Kebabs Become Modern American Fare at Spitfire

Video produced by Denise Toledo

A few steps off Washington Avenue in Miami, Spitfire’s Oliver Yasin Freuen and Co-owner Aaron Hyatt turn out a popular German street food known as the Döner Kebab.

Freuen brought the idea over from northwestern Germany where he grew up surrounded by the traditionally Turkish flavors and Hyatt brought to the table over 20 years of restaurant operation experience. The joining of these partners was a match made in döner heaven.

Opened in early November of 2015, Spitfire was inspired by Freuen’s family history of döner kebab restaurants. The sandwiches have become immensely popular overseas and now they have spread to downtown Miami.

“We have a lot of European customers and some Turkish customers. They appreciate that we have the original tastes, the original flavors,” says Freuen.

For many visitors, the flavors are new. Freuen says his biggest mission is educating his American consumer base about döner kebabs and their ingredients and flavors.

“They’ve never heard this name before, where the food is coming from.” Aaron adds, "They think it might be shawarma."

Aside from offering interesting and great tasting food, Spitfire also listens to the needs of its consumer base. Hyatt notes that good business depends on reacting to customers' needs.

“With the other bowl that we have here, that’s the salad bowl. Of course, down here in South Florida everyone's looking to watch that waistline.”

Consumers can do just that without losing out on the flavors of the traditional döner. Each offering at Spitfire comes with your choice of spit-fired lamb or chicken and the tasty, time-honored toppings: tomatoes, pickled red and white cabbage, sumac onions, and a garlic tzatziki sauce, with a recipe that has been passed down generation by generation in Freuen’s family.

Check out how these partners are combining traditional flavors with modern business operation tactics on this episode of Fast Casual Nation.