Birdbox in San Francisco threatens to steal the fried chicken sandwich limelight

These days it’s not easy to stand out in a nation crowded with fried chicken sandwiches, but the new Birdbox in San Francisco is grabbing attention. This fast-casual spinoff of the two-Michelin-star Birdsong opened its first brick-and-mortar unit in the city’s South Park neighborhood next to Oracle Park. Partners Chris Bleidorn and Aarti Shetty first … Read more

MOD Pizza builds infrastructure for growth with several exec changes

Prepping for a next phase of growth, MOD Pizza late Friday announced several changes to the leadership team, with a particular focus on franchise and development. Founded in 2008, the fast-casual MOD Pizza has long been a primarily company-operated chain, with more than 520 units in the US and Canada that are company owned or … Read more

Great Greek Mediterranean Grill finds success in service

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill menus classic Mediterranean dishes including Gyros / Photo courtesy of United Franchise Group. The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has quietly emerged as one of the country’s fastest-growing small restaurant chains in recent years, in part by offering a higher level of service at a time when many customers are focused … Read more

Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-BQ tries fast casual—emphasis on fast

Five Jim ‘N Nick’s restaurants have switched to counter service. / Photograph courtesy of Jim ‘N Nick’s After nearly 40 years as a strictly full-service barbecue concept, Jim ‘N Nick’s Community Bar-BQ is shaking things up. For the past year and a half, the 38-unit, Alabama-based chain has been shifting from servers to counter service … Read more

The pandemic-fueled chicken craving still has legs

Photo courtesy Dave’s Hot Chicken That pandemic-fueled craving for chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and chicken wings didn’t go away. In fact, it remained red hot throughout 2021, according to the latest Top 500 chain restaurant data released by Technomic. Case in point: No other restaurant concept grew its sales and units as swiftly last year … Read more

Panera Bread to test AI to help keep coffee fresh

Panera will use Miso’s CookRight system to monitor coffee levels and temperature. / Photograph courtesy of Miso Robotics Panera Bread is testing a new, artificially intelligent coffee system designed to ensure each cup is hot and fresh. The 2,121-unit fast-casual chain has partnered with Miso Robotics, the maker of Flippy and other automated restaurant products, … Read more

Southern flavors drive menu R&D at Big Chicken, Shaquille O’Neal’s fast casual

Photo courtesy of Big Chicken When he came up with the concept for Big Chicken, Shaquille O’Neal recruited two of Las Vegas’ leading chefs, Matt Silverman and Matt Piekarski, to create a menu reflective of his Southern roots. That meant turning some of Shaq’s family favorites into brand signatures and developing their own versions of … Read more

Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard retires from the fast-casual Italian chain

Photograph: Shutterstock Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard is retiring from the fast-casual Italian chain he has led since 2008, the company announced Thursday. Doug Bostick, currently SVP of operations and franchise development, who has been with Fazoli’s for 21 years, becomes CEO, effective Friday, the Lexington, Ky.-based brand said. Howard, in a statement, said he is … Read more

How Original ChopShop is growing like a big chain while it’s still small

Photo courtesy of Original ChopShop Jason Morgan, CEO of 17-unit Original ChopShop, has borrowed some of the tactics of much larger brands in steering his fast casual through the past couple of choppy years. But there’s one practice Morgan has been loath to adopt: Raising prices. Over the past three years, the Dallas-based chain has … Read more

A small quesadilla chain gets an investment from Mooyah’s owner

Photo courtesy of Dillas Quesadillas Investor Anand Gala has taken a minority stake in a fast-casual quesadilla concept, Dilas Quesadillas, the chain announced Tuesday. Gala Capital Partners will help the seven-unit, Dallas-based brand launch a franchising operation and grow nationwide, co-founder founder Kyle Gordon said. The amount of the investment was not disclosed, but Gordon … Read more