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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82 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • SEPTEMBER 2017 SLAPFISH Food Truck to Fast-Casual Fish Phenom A t a time in the industry when the fast-casual operating model applies to everything from burgers, burritos and pizza to Mediterranean and Indian specialties, seafood has been conspicuously absent from the menu. Andrew Gruel, a young celebrity chef with a passion for the ocean and all of its bounty, set out to change that with Slapfish. Gruel's mission: to add high-quality, sustainably sourced fresh seafood into the affordable, fast-casual restaurant pool. Customers are taking the bait. Gruel launched Slapfish in 2011 in a rehabbed food truck in Orange County, Calif., with two menu items: Lobsticles (lobster tails on a stick) and fish tacos. Within a year, he had three food trucks cruising the LA/Orange County market and enough confirmation of the public's appetite for fast-casual sea- food that he scraped together $150,000 from friends, family and other debtors to open his first brick-and-mortar Slapfish. Housed in a former bagel shop in Huntington Beach, Calif., it's a location that Gruel describes as off the beaten path and a bit of a hole in the wall. But that was fine with him — and the only economically viable way for him to launch the concept. His focus now, as then, centers on freshness and quality. The concept main- tains a casual, "nothin' fancy" seafood-shack vibe. The concept remains ready to grow. The brand touts nine units, all but one of which reside in Southern California. Two are company owned and the rest are franchised. The chain's sole out-of-state loca- tion as of mid-summer resides in Lehi, Utah, although in July, the company sealed a multi- unit franchise deal for the East SLAPFISH SNAPSHOT HQ: Huntington Beach, Calif. Concept: Fast casual, sustainable seafood Founded: 2012 No. of Units: 9 Ownership: Founder/CEO Andrew Gruel, investors Expansion Markets: Western and Southwestern states, Northern Virginia, United Kingdom, South Korea Franchising: Yes Services: Lunch, dinner, takeout, delivery, catering (varies by location) Average Unit Size: 1,600-2,000 square feet Average Kitchen Size: 40 percent of total Average Check: $12-$13 Average Unit Volume: $1.2 million Average Unit Cost: $2 million Average Equipment Package: $125,000 Mission-Critical Equipment: Flattop griddle, grill, fryers Slapfish is a pioneering, chef-driven fast-casual concept out to fill the gap between fine dining and QSR for seafood. Its menus tout sustainabil- ity, creativity and craveability, with cooked-to-order specials such as the Crab BLT. Photos courtesy of Slapfish 7 EMERGING CHAINS

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