Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2019

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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76 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES AUGUST 2019 MARKET SPOTLIGHT With this acquisition, CAVA became one of the rst omni-channel platforms in the fast-casual space. The company leverages two separate service models: the traditional brick and mortar approach, which now includes digital elements such as app ordering and third-party delivery, and retail distribution of its dips and spreads through Whole Foods. The nancing of the venture was accomplished with the help Ron Shaich, Panera Bread founder and now chairman of the combined company. He is manag- ing partner for investment rm Act III Holdings, which has a $300 million fund that invests in public and private restau- rant and consumer companies. "It's Ron Shaich's vision to focus on the healthy food market," says Tristano. "[Other fast- casual chains in different segments] try to be healthy but can't accomplish what these [Mediterranean] brands can." Fast-casual Mediterranean con- cepts like CAVA have a specic focus with fewer items. "They know who they are, with menus centered around healthier ingredients and recipes," adds Tristano. "In analyzing chains with growth, both CAVA and Zoës are in the mix. Many iconic brands are facing mature segments and declining, but that's not the case with Mediterranean foods." Fast-Growing Franchise Along with Middle Eastern food, Greek cuisine continues to in–uence the Mediterranean segment. Nick Vojnovic, CEO and president of Little Greek Fresh Grill, a Mediterranean-focused fast-casual franchise that grew from 4 locations in Florida to 40 restaurants in 6 states today, has had a front-row seat in the evolution. He purchased the concept, formerly called Happy Greek, from founder Sigrid Bratic. "Eight years ago, I looked at 80 con- cepts while nishing my master's degree at the University of South Florida," says Vojnovic. "I looked at everything, including burgers and burritos. When friends recommended this concept, I saw it was outstanding — with healthy, –avorful food. And there were no domi- nant players in the space." Vojnovic's university research also showed that only a small percentage of the U.S. population was familiar with Greek food. That led to his purchase of the chain and plans to franchise the Clockwise from top left: Little Greek locations average 1,600 square feet with 30 seats. Little Greek's back of the house includes a compact kitchen and prep area that enables customers to view the action. Little Greek's gyros are among its biggest sellers.

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