Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

SEP 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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96 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • SEPTEMBER 2017 wanted to go in another direction. I bought them out and we spent the next couple of years refining the brand's look and feel, working on throughput and scaling back the menu. At one time, the original concept had 118 items on the menu, some of which lost money every time they were sold. We had to do a lot of food- and labor-cost analyses to be able to clean it up and scale it back." Rising Roll's team has also worked to contemporize its menu of gourmet hot and cold sandwiches, salads and wraps and to differentiate the concept both from sub sandwich-style concepts and bakery-cafe competitors. "Our chef did a great job of bringing new ideas and current flavor profiles to the table," Lassiter says. "That was especially important as we started to grow on col- lege campuses and in urban office buildings with a large Millennial customer base." The chain has also added a number of less-than- 400-calorie options as well as vegan and reduced-gluten items and a selection of specialty coffee drinks. Signature sandwiches include selections such as Chicken Milano, featuring house-made chicken salad, mozzarella, cheddar, roasted red peppers and fresh basil on Tandoori bread; Pimento Cheese & Apple with bacon; Turkey & Brie with apples and Dijon aioli; Portabella & Roasted Red Pepper Vegan Wrap with grilled asparagus and sauteed onion; Turkey & Pear with goat cheese, ro- maine lettuce and sweet chili sauce; and Firecracker Roast Beef Wrap with roasted red peppers, pepperjack cheese, Firecracker Sauce and lettuce. Most Rising Roll locations serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast items include paninis, burritos and croissant sandwiches as well as gourmet oatmeal and smoothies. Lassiter says one major benefit of initially targeting nontraditional locations was lower rents relative to compa- rable commercial retail spaces. Other benefits include the opportunity to operate a variety of formats, from small express units offering grab- and-go service to full cafes, and to offer franchisees a better work/life balance than many brands can: Many loca- tions are daytime-only opera- tions and close on weekends and holidays. Another benefit has been the opportunity to build a strong catering busi- ness. Catering sales now range from 35 percent of revenues in some locations to 65 percent in others. RIGHT-SIZED AND REFINED Like its menu, Rising Roll's prototype has been right- sized and refined as the chain has readied for development in new, more competitive markets. Recent updates to the brand's logo and store give it a warm, contemporary appear- ance. And through aggressive value engineering, the ideal store footprint was reduced from 2,400 to a more eco- nomical 2,100 square feet. That size allows for a front of the house with 42 seats and a large front service counter. The signature element there is an 8- or 12-foot deli case that showcases a variety of house- made salads and sandwich fill- ings. The counter also includes a grab-and-go merchandiser, drink station and gourmet coffee bar with the register at the far end. "We prefer that guests see the food, let us help them customize their orders and then pay at the end," Las- siter says. "It's traditional fast casual in terms of the guest ordering experience, but we're faster. Our average delivery time is about 43 seconds and once you've paid, you have everything you need and are ready to sit down and enjoy your meal. You don't have to go find the drink station or the condiment station or wait for your order." Rising Roll kitchens are large. Including the counter, meal assembly areas and behind-the-scenes prep and storage, the kitchen compris- es 65 percent to 70 percent of an average store's foot- print. The design accom- modates the large amount of catering business and also enables the level of fresh, from-scratch preparation for which the chain is known. The kitchen's core equip- ment package includes a large range, grill and double-stack convection oven. Other key equipment items include slic- ers, prep tables/prep equip- ment, panini grills and refrig- erated storage. Lassiter says his team is also testing a ventless combi oven at one campus location and new menu devel- opment has him researching equipment options for oven frying and extended hot hold- ing of proteins. Moving forward, Rising Roll's franchising efforts will focus initially on markets in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas, but sights are set on national expansion. "We're really looking for area developers to purchase and sell franchises within their territories," Lassiter says. "We feel like we've been sitting on the shelf for a while but are finally ready to do a national rollout and grow the brand. We have to find the right locations and, more impor- tantly, the right people to help us grow." Rising Roll notes one benefit of initially targeting nontraditional locations was lower rents. Another has been the opportunity to build a strong catering business, which contributes 35 to 65 percent of sales depending on location. 7 EMERGING CHAINS

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