How Sweetgreen is Becoming the Next Fast Casual Unicorn

On this episode of the Barron Report Live, host Paul Barron discusses which wing-focused restaurant brand is taking on pizza for the next Super Bowl, the fire sale of Diageo’s liquor brands, and how Sweetgreen becoming the next food unicorn in the fast casual industry.

Wings Take on Pizza in Super Bowl Challenge
At :35 - Paul discusses the growth of the popular takeout brand, Wingstop. The chicken-wing fast casual chain has seen a 15.5 percent increase in annual growth last quarter, with systemwide same-store sales also growing by 6.3 percent, and its net income jumping 33.8 percent.

The increase in store count to 1,215 global locations, is pretty major move compared to growth in the fast casual segment is slowing down overall. Additionally, the company’s strategy and lack of direct competition are leading them to take over the takeout industry over pizza.

Diageo to Sell Off 19 of Its Brands
At 5:00 - Paul discusses Diageo’s, the world’s largest spirits producer, decision to sell 19 of its lower-end spirits brands to Sazerac for $550 million. The strategy appears to allow Diageo to focus on its premium labels.

This decision will allow the company to take on the trending craft spirits market. Paul has seen firsthand when filming the Foodable show “Across the Bar,” just how often mixologists have opted for a more unique craft cocktail brand.

Sweetgreen to Become the Next Fast Casual Unicorn?
At 6:31 - Paul discusses the biggest news of the week — how salad chain Sweetgreen is quickly becoming the next fast casual market leader.

Foodable identified early on that this concept would be a breakout brand in the fast casual market. With Sweetgreen’s HQ move to Los Angeles in 2016 to join other tech-focused restaurants that are raising money in private rounds at valuations of $1 billion or more, they are here to stay. “CNBC” recently reported that Sweetgreen is nearing a $200 million investment with Fidelity Investments.

The key to Sweetgreen’s success like other fast casual stars is to have a unique,  Xactor. For the salad chain, it’s all about lifestyle. Showcased in previous events like the Sweetlife festival, Sweetgreen is able to connect with their consumers celebrating passion and purpose.

Another brand that has been able to achieve this in the past is Chipotle, controlling the burrito business with ambiance, food, and environment compared to Baja Fresh.

In recent news revolving Chipotle, hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has sold another large chunk of its Chipotle Mexican Grill investment. The affiliated entities have reportedly sold a total of 118,307 shares of the fast casual chain for a total of $55.8 million.

Watch the live podcast above to learn Paul’s predictions for the fast casual market and what he believes to be next for these two stars, what other factors are playing into Wingstop’s impressive acceleration and its edge in takeout, and to find out which brands are being sold to Sazerac.

 
 

How Pei Wei’s Clean-Label Initiative is Pushing Menu Transparency in the Restaurant Industry

Pei Wei first opened their doors in 2000, arising from the culinary experts at P.F. Chang’s. The restaurant serves authentic, Asian-inspired dishes and prides itself on not compromising freshness for speed of service.

The fast casual chain has recently submitted a Citizen Petition under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requesting that the FDA Commissioner amend an existing provision to require restaurants to affirmatively substantiate their nutritional claims by disclosing the recipe or formula for their standard menu items.

This follows Pei Wei’s introduction of the Wei it Forward clean-label initiative that exemplifies the chain’s strong belief that food should be made with fresh, wholesome ingredients while empowering consumers to make smarter choices.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron is joined by Chief Marketing Officer of Pei Wei, Brandon Solano, to discuss Pei Wei’s clean-label initiative and supply chain challenges that go along with it.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on how Pei Wei is communicating its initiative via social media and the future for the rest of the industry.

SHOW NOTES

  • 13:12 - This is Now the Table Stakes

  • 16:14 - The Tipping Point for the Rest of the Industry

  • 18:07 - Is the Supply Chain Moving in this Direction?

  • 24:07 - Pei Wei Tiger’s Social Media Communicating in an Authentic Way

  • 1:14 - How Brandon Solano became Chief Marketing Officer of Top Fast Casual Chain

  • 3:43 - Why Pei Wei Petitioned the FDA on Menu Transparency

  • 6:04 - 18-Month Timeline For Consumer Visibility

  • 8:04 - Becoming a Thought Leader in Clean Label

 
 

Have Amazon Go and UberEats Become a Threat to Restaurant Operators?

Operators have always had to compete in the market with other concepts, but in today's market, there are a new set of power players ready to steal your customers.

Enter Amazon.

Amazon, like the fast casual segment, is catering to the on-the-go consumer with its cashier-less Amazon Go stores, many of which offer grab-and-go food options. These stores have become the most popular during the workweek, especially at lunchtime.

We recently analyzed the aggressive move Amazon is making in the foodservice industry. Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on if fast casual restaurants can survive this threat.

But there is one advantage that restaurants, namely fast casual restaurants, have over the Amazon Go stores– many have embraced the plant-based movement. According to Foodable Labs data, today's foodies can't get enough of these plant-based menu items.

Don’t miss our video breaking down this data about the plant-based movement below.

Amazon isn't the only threat operators need to be worried about. There is another shark circling to take a bite out of your business.

Third-party delivery services emerged as a solution that many operators desperately needed.

Since offering delivery has quickly become a guests' expectation, an operator has two options. One is to invest in significant funding to build a delivery program. However, this is easier said than done. It entails creating a system, investing in a platform to process these orders, hiring more staff to handle take-out and delivery orders, and then hiring reliable drivers to deliver these orders.

Or an operator can simply partner with a third-party delivery service, which eliminates most of the headaches. When you consider the operational and logistical challenges of offering delivery, its no wonder that operators across the country have decided to go the route of partnering with a third-party delivery service.

But now this has created a new problem.

One of the most popular delivery services out there is now UberEats. This company has quickly conquered the market. UberEats is currently offering food delivery for 50 percent of the U.S. population and has the lofty goal of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by the end of this year.

As UberEats becomes more popular, the more the fees increase for the participating restaurants. Could this be correlated to the increase in restaurant closings?

Listen to the podcast above as The Barron Report host Paul Barron explains the data showing that third-party delivery growth may be tied to restaurant failures.

Bellacosa Wine Co. is All About Lifestyle and Consumer Experience

Listen on: iTunes | Google Play | tunein | iHeartRADIO | Spotify

Bellacosa which translates to mean a “beautiful thing” in Spanish, is the name of a winery that focuses on the beautiful life experiences it can bring to those who drink it.

On this special episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron is joined by President & CEO of Bellacosa Wine, Dan Cohn, in our live podcast studio set to discuss current wine trends and Cohn’s groundswell tactics.

Son of the famous Bruce Cohn, Dan began to learn the wine business at a young age through his family’s winery. He walked the vineyards, worked in the cellar, and was raised around some wine industry stars – like Helen Turley, Merry Edwards, and Steve MacRostie.

Cohn takes this experience with him to Bellacosa as he created the 2015 Bellacosa Cabernet Sauvignon to look like $100 bottle, drink like $50 wine, and give it a price point under $25.

Watch this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on how Cohn prices and educates his buyers on the wines, and how he travels around the states to market his brand.


SHOW NOTES

  • 12:40 - Technology in the Wine Industry

  • 13:57 - How to Stand Out Against Competitors

  • 18:32 - State to State Wine Consumption

  • 21:25 - Reduction of Focus on the Napa Vineyards


  • 1:14 - Behind the Cohn Name

  • 3:49 - Focusing on the “Beautiful Thing”

  • 4:57 - Wine Tasting on Set

  • 7:56 - Setting the Stage for Millennial Diners

  • 9:17 - Educating Restaurant Servers and Staff on Your Wine Brand

  • 11:32 - Understanding what Bellacosa Is

 
 

Millennial Food Founders Create Specialty RTD Super Coffee Brand KITU Life

Rising consumer demands and healthier diet trends are calling for more and more specialty products to fill the void in the market. One of the top trending diets, the ketogenic diet, currently ranks No. 4 on Foodable Labs’ “Top Diets by Social Mentions”.

Former college athlete and now KITU Life Founder, Jordan DeCicco, struggled to find a keto-approved healthy ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee option — so he created his own.

With millennial coffee consumption up 41% this year, according to Foodable Labs, it only makes sense that the world's first enhanced RTD coffee company is lead by millennials themselves: brothers Jordan, Jake, and Jim DeCicco.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron discusses the specialty beverage market with Jordan and how he provided a solution to a gap in the specialty beverage market at such a young age.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report to learn how this keto-approved beverage came to be, and for insights on how to build a brand as a young entrepreneur with little to no knowledge starting out.

SHOW NOTES

  • 16:25 - Facing a Knowledge Barrier: Managing a Brand Under the Age of 30

  • 19:30 - Strategies on Breaking into the Specialty Food Category

  • 24:39 - How to Tell What Your Company’s Worth Early On

  • 26:32 - Being on Shark Tank: Catapulting the Brand

  • 28:36 - What’s Next for KITU Life?


  • 01:18 - Dorm Room Passion Project Turns into KITU Life Super Coffee

  • 04:07 - The Booming Specialty Beverage Segment

  • 05:46 - What Makes Super Coffee Keto Diet Approved?

  • 07:14 - Challenges of Growing the Business as a Food Founder Under 30

  • 08:37 - Growing into 30 Whole Foods Locations in 6 Months

  • 11:29 - Launching & Co Packers: A Critical Point in a Brand’s Lifespan