5 emerging brands reveal secrets to success

5 emerging brands reveal secrets to success

Nancy Luna | Oct 03, 2018

Instagrammable merchandising. Hyper-focused menu. Sexy vegetables. Gorgeous food. Authenticity.

These are the individual attributes of this year’s Hot Concepts Award winners, who were recognized during this week’s MUFSO conference. Leaders from each emerging brand told industry executives why their concepts have resonated with consumers.

At Denver-based Punch Bowl Social, founder and CEO Robert Thompson said he took the “eatertainment” movement and flipped it on its head by paying more attention to delivering quality food and beverages than many competitors in the space.

“We believe we are the vanguard in this category,” Thompson said.

Authenticity is also key, he said.

Oftentimes, the venues are located in repurposed industrial or retail structures. The Stapleton, Co. location, for example, was built inside the city’s original airport tower. Inside, the design is an architectural mashup of mid-century modern, Victorian, and mountain lodge influences.

Besides Punch Bowl, the other Hot Concept winners included Beefsteak, Holler & Dash Biscuit House, Pokéworks and Breakfast Republic.  Here these diverse brands share how they are carving out their own niches and offer tips on connecting with fans:

Beefsteak

Vision: The fast-casual brand has a “dream leader to work with” in José Andrés, said COO Eric Martino. Andrés is the architect behind the three-year-old concept, which puts vegetables front and center on the plate. In his keynote speech during MUFSO, Andrés said vegetables should no longer be relegated to the sidelines.

“It’s about making vegetables sexy,” Andres said Tuesday morning.

That goal is reflected in the restaurants’ playful decor. “Naughty,” free-spirited vegetable characters — each with its own personality — can be seen throughout the restaurant, from the wallpaper to the foosball table.

Beefsteak blanches vegetables in salted water for a minute and 20 seconds, then serves them over grains or greens with a warm sauce and a choice of crunchy, flavorful topping such as corn nuts or sesame seeds. Burgers and soups are also available. The restaurant sends compost to a local urban farm, where Beefsteak sources some of its vegetables — creating a “full circle” supply chain that embraces sustainability.

Social media tip: Use Instagram to tell your brand stories, and not just about the food. “Also, tell the stories of your staff,” Martino said.

Holler & Dash Biscuit House

Vision: The fast-casual brand by the creators of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store offers a variety of wholesome Southern recipes where biscuits are the main attraction.

“Our brand is built around biscuit inspiration,” said COO Mike Chissler. “The biscuits are the hero.”

Like its sister-brand, Holler & Dash focuses on old-fashioned Southern hospitality.

“We hire great people that fit the brand,” Chissler said.

Social media tip: It’s important to monitor all social channels, and turn negative feedback into positive experiences. “Reacting quickly is important,” COO Mike Chissler said.

Punch Bowl Social

Vision: The “eatertainment” venue geared for Millennials seeking upscale food and premium cocktails in a giant playground that offers board games, virtual reality stations, bowling and karaoke. But, unlike rivals, Punch Bowl Social invests in a dynamic food and craft cocktail program. The menu features Southern-inspired cuisine with a modern twist developed by superstar chef Hugh Acheson, a brand partner. Brunch specialties include Chicken ‘N’ Waffles served with smoked jalapeño-pecan syrup, the grit breakfast bowl and monkey bread French toast.

Thompson said the “magic” formula is being authentic, and true to your brand. The company focuses on millennials because they influence both Gen Z and Gen X, he said.

“If we focus on that demographic set, then our net is wide and we get a full audience,” Thompson said.

Social media tip: Don’t select influencers to promote your brand just because they have large number of followers. It is more “important to find a smaller, more dialed in influencer to your brand. For us, everything has to go through an authenticity filter.”

Pokéworks

Vision: Pokéworks was created by a group of Southern California buddies looking to bring a sushi experience to the masses through premium poke bowls. But instead of opening close to home, they decided to test the concept in New York City.

“By putting one in Manhattan, we’ll know really fast if the concept will work,” CEO Michael Wu said.

It took a few months, but the experiment took off. Tweaks were made along the way to ensure that the store’s assembly line Chipotle-style service was operating at maximum efficiency. With lines out the door, Pokéworks can assemble someone’s meal in roughly 23 seconds.

The company is also setting itself apart from rivals in the crowded market by sourcing sustainable seafood and, featuring underutilized fish varieties.

“If we’re open to eating different seafood, that solves the problem,” he said, referring to the overfishing of high-demand fish such as tuna and salmon.

Pokéworks is also collaborating with popular Hawaiian chef, and Top Chef alum Sheldon Simeon on signature poke bowls.

Social media tip: Offer gorgeous food. “Our food is naturally beautiful, so the pictures look great. It draws you in.”

Breakfast Republic

Vision: Owner Johan Engman launched Breakfast Republic because he wanted to create a restaurant that put a “a high emphasis on branding and alcohol, especially in the morning.”

The limited hours allow the brand to focus on all-day breakfast served with premium cocktails. Engman said the chain will not take reservations because “perception is reality” and lines out the door “create great hype for the stores.”

Limiting the hours from 7 am. to 3 p.m. allows the restaurants to pack in customers during limited number of staff hours, which yields “good numbers,” he said.

Social media tip: Merchandising, innovation and functional design are crucial to the brand — from branded coffee mugs and apparel to the bright yellow “egg” chairs in the restaurants that customers love to photograph and post on social channels.

“We’re trying to have fun in what we do,” Engman said.

 

Back

What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • Working with David at Patrice and Associates was an excellent experience!

    David is super professional and really took a lot of time to talk with me, get to know what my needs are and match me with the best possible position. I always received speedy replies to any questions I had, and he was always accessible and accommodating to me throughout the process. I highly recommend working with this group for your needs, and would happily work with them in the future should I ever look for new opportunities. Thank you, Johnny Morgan Working with David at Patrice and Associates was an excellent experience!
  • Margo was fantastic!

    Throughout the process, she was able to get and keep me prepared and ready to answer any questions or curveballs that came my way.  I was better prepared during this interview process than I have ever been before.  A normally stressful process was made less so thanks to Margo.  She was the one that initially brought the opportunity to my attention and was there every step of the way to ensure I was successful.
    Thank you,
    Adam Saia
    Margo was fantastic!
  • I would like to say thank you for this great opportunity and helping me with the next mile stone on my career path.

    At first when I received the email I was uncertain that this would work. Upon talking to Michelle I discovered that not only was she really nice, but also quite resourceful. I started the process on a Tuesday and literally one week later I was offered a job on the spot, thanks to all of her assistance. We talked and I was able to be open with her.  She was able to put me in the mindset of my now area manager to go over what to say and do, and what to leave out during the interview. We went over resumes and she showed me how to improve mine so that I stood out. Overall if I ever had to do this again I would gladly work with Michelle but I’m secure in my career path.  Thanks again to Patrice and Associates, and Michelle! Keyona Ellis
  • Duke was always available. There were several times I made unscheduled calls and texts, and he always had time for me. 

    I am grateful to have worked with Duke Witte during my search for employment. When I heard the word recruiter, I immediately put my guard up, but it quickly came down. Duke proved himself immediately as being in my corner, and that he had my best interests at heart. I explained to Duke upfront what’s important to me, my beliefs, and my interests. I was able to speak to Duke openly and comfortably. I’m a very private person, and Duke made me very comfortable by explaining his confidentiality process between prospect and recruiter. It has been awhile since I’ve had to look for work and be interviewed. I requested a mock interview with Duke, and it helped me. I don’t think the most highly of myself at times, and Duke strongly helped me build my confidence. My original resume I created read more as a detailed portfolio and Duke rearranged things in a way that would give me opportunity to speak on my skills and abilities. He explained that the resume is my golden ticket to getting the interview, and the interview is where I sell myself and share the details that I had in my original resume. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Duke during this process, and he is a strong advocate for those needing work. I will be referring him anytime I am able. Elliott Gray Duke was always available. There were several times I made unscheduled calls and texts, and he always had time for me. 
  • Jodi Furraitti at Patrice & Associates is absolutely fabulous!

      I could tell immediately that she loves what she does for her clients and really gets to know them in depth. I had been searching for my next career path for several months and then the Covid-19 debacle happened. No one was hiring. I had posted my resume on Indeed and that’s where Jodi found me. She does her homework and even answered emails, texts and calls both day and night, and even on weekends. The whole process was quick, professional and only took one interview for me to secure a General Manager role at a luxury motorcoach resort. Jodi is a great asset to Patrice & Associates, and with this being my first experience working with a recruiter, I am highly impressed. Well done! Carolyn Masten Jodi Furraitti at Patrice & Associates is absolutely fabulous!