Three Fast Casual Must-Haves

During the past decade there has been a significant increase in the number of fast casual enterprises because of the changing habits of the consumer; this new generation of consumer values convenience above everything. The modern food consumer seeks out a smart balance of convenience, quality product, appealing aesthetics and of course, affordability. The guest wants an experience that is as close to a full-service experience as possibly, without the same price and time commitment. In order to distinctly differentiate themselves from their competition, fast casual enterprises need to offer 1) fresh ingredients, 2) five star customer service and 3) an inviting environment.

1. Fresh ingredients: The new generation of consumer values quality food, with a special emphasis on the choice of ingredients and how fresh they are. Consumers are also more aware about the cooking techniques and menu variety.

2. First-Rate Customer Service: Counter service should be available so that the guest can place an order quickly, and enjoy the experience longer. The consumer looks for an experience that is as close to full-service as possible, so the staff needs to meet this demand in as friendly of a manner as possible.

3. Inviting Atmosphere: Aside from looking aesthetically pleasing and modern, the staff needs to be as high-energy and outgoing with the guest as possible while still maintaining accuracy and speed.

To read more about the evolving nature of fast casual enterprises and how to keep up with the new consumer demands as well as some predictions for the future of fast casual, click here

Loco’l Tackling Fast Food

Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are very close to launching Loco’l, a unique way of doing fast food that uses high-quality ingredients at low price points, and still pays workers a decent wage. Roy Choy states, “We’re not trying to be Fast Food Plus and that’s exactly why the cornerstone of Loco’l is that we want to make a 99 cent burger.” Tartine Bakery’s chef Chad Robertson has been brought on to the project by Roy and Daniel in order to craft a koji burger bun, and the chefs have a spot already in the San Francisco Tenderloin neighborhood. Loco’l is now focusing on raising more capital to cover the rest of the location’s build-out. Below are some of the values of Loco’l:

Loco’l is a team of innovative chefs.
Loco’l is locally sourced.
Loco’l is using quality ingredients.
Loco’l is providing fair wages.
Loco’l is leveraging state of the art technology.
Loco’l is community based.
Loco’l is crazy.

The campaign launched on Indiegogo has raised $12,000 so far of the $150,000 goal. To check out the Indiegogo campaign, click here.

Grocery Stores As Social Destinations

Given that more and more grocery store customers are turning towards delivery services, Whole Foods has decided to add in-store dining and bar options. In the Chicago area, Whole Foods is undergoing a six-store expansion. President of Whole Foods’ Midwest region, Michael Bashaw, states,“Simply put, we’re looking for ways to make the places more appealing, if bricks-and-mortar (grocers) are going to survive, they must offer a compelling experience to customers.”

Whole Foods will be partnering with an outside operator, Raw Foods, to open an in-store location that features branded  raw foods and vegan dishes. There will also be a full-service bar and an expanded coffee stand that will hopefully cater to neighborhood residents and workers. Whole Foods is strongly attempting to diversify its supermarkets away from being solely a place to shop to more of a social destination.

To read more about the Whole Foods six store makeover in Chicago area, click here.

Here Come The Cake Doughnuts!

We, for one, could not be more excited about the arrival of cake doughnuts at our neighborhood doughnut shop, Dough. TaraPaige Group’s dear friend Fany Gerson, expert doughnut maker for Dough, has revealed that cake doughnuts will be making their debut in upcoming weeks. The three flavors they will be available in include apple-pear cider, chocolate malt, and buttermilk (or possibly sour cream, still deciding).

Dough has a location in Brooklyn at 305 Franklin Ave, as well as in Manhattan at 14 W 19th St, New York. Pies ‘N’ Thighs will also be soon introducing new sourdough doughnuts, so it is a great time for doughnut lovers in the city! For more details on the doughnuts or to see a picture of the doughnut maker, click here.

Webinar Event: Hospitality Industry Wage Order

The Hospitality Industry Wage Order:
Are You in Compliance?

January 26, 2015
2 – 2:45 p.m. (including 15 minute Q&A)
No cost
Presented by John S. Ho and Subhash Viswanathan

  • Tip credits and computing overtime for tipped employees
  • Call-in pay
  • “Spread of Hours” pay
  • Uniform maintenance pay
  • Limitations on meal and lodging credits

To register for the webinar, click here

The Year of Pie

Pie has made quite the comeback and gained significant exposure and popularity this past year. There is no disputing the important presence of Four & Twenty Blackbirds in South Brooklyn (including their own custard flavor at Brooklyn Shake Shacks) and the success of Pies ‘N’ Thighs who will shortly be opening a Manhattan outpost. The latest pie haven on the scene can be found on Delancey Street in the Lower East Side and is run by Petra Paredez. Petra’s shop, Petee’s Pie Co., has been creating dozens of pie flavors since opening in November; some of these include: salty chocolate chess, butterscotch meringue and wild blueberry.

Inspired by the city’s new take to pies, Paredez and her husband Robert began to plan for their own pie shop with a focus on locally sourced ingredients; apples from the Hudson Valley, butter churned by Kriemhild Dairy Farms in Hamilton, organic wheat flour from Champlain Valley Milling upstate and buttermilk from Pittsford Farms Dairy outside Rochester. Paredez has said they will spend the winter sourcing even more local ingredients and hopes to turn not-so-convinced New Yorkers into pie aficionados. Paredez states, “It doesn’t make sense, it’s real food, made with real dairy, real fruit, real eggs. It’s not, like, a cupcake.” To check out some photos of Petee’s Pie Co.’s creations and for more background on the shop, click here.

Food Startup Venture Fundraising Bootcamp

On January 31st, Food + Tech Connect will be presenting Food Startup Venture Fundraising Bootcamp in NYC. This event will be a useful tool for food, food tech or agtech entrepreneurs that are in the early stages of fundraising. The bootcamp will be taught by US Venture Partners and Feeding 10 Billion Founder Paul Matteucci. The bootcamp will be a hands on experience aimed at converting overwhelming feelings to feelings of confidence by clarifying the process of raising venture capital. The bootcamp will also become available online in March, with a 50% discount if attendees sign up now!

Matteuci is a Silicon Valley investor and big advocate for food system innovation who currently works with the State of California and Stone Barns to develop programs for food entrepreneurs. His insight is key given that he has seen both sides of the spectrum, as a founding entrepreneur and now wanting to help others succeed. The program will review case studies and provide hands-on exercises on fundraising financials, market sizing, valuation, term sheets and crafting a pitch. By the end of the session, attendees should understand what it is that motivates investors and what pushed them away. Below are a few of the key takeaways from the Food Startup Venture Fundraising Bootcamp:

  • Insider look at how VCs evaluate deals
  • Understand key fundraising concepts
  • Determine which fundraising option is best for you
  • Understand market sizing and valuation
  • Create financial projections
  • Develop a rough pitch deck
  • Come up with a fundraising strategy for your company

There is limited space (roughly 30 person count), so hurry to sign up! Currently there is a discount running of $250 for the program as opposed to the normal price of $399. To register or to learn more about the launch of the bootcamp, click here.


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