I’m always looking out for the next great burger. It’s my go-to comfort food. And nowadays with places like Five Guys, Smashburger, and Shake Shack, I have options! The sensation is known as the “better burger” trend – restaurants where you can get burgers with premium ingredients (sometimes even local or sustainable) that are fresher and better for you. And why have better burger restaurants become such a breakout? Obviously it was for many reasons, but a lot of it had to do with it having a focused concept, fresh ingredients, premium offerings, and niches in the food industry that were begging to be filled.
Nation’s Restaurant News released a special report entitled “Breakout Brands” which highlighted 50 brands that had some of today’s hottest emerging concepts. And when you look at them, it’s easy to see why they are on the cusp of breakout. So just what are these breakout factors that make breakout brands a breakout?
I always get really passionate when I talk about niches in the food industry because I think people want to dine at concepts that are known for one particular food item. Let’s take Melt Bar & Grilled for example – a restaurant concept that ranked #29 on NRN’s list of breakout brands and also happens to be on the Rewards Network program! Melt Bar & Grilled is known for their gourmet grilled cheeses. Lo and behold that actually seems to be in the restaurant’s name. So before I even step in the door I know that I want a grilled cheese and I know that’s what is going to be good on the menu. Having a culinary niche is key when you want to be a breakout brand. And it helps if that culinary niche is also a hot trend in the marketplace – like comfort food!
Embracing something different is a great way to distinguish yourself from other restaurant brands in the marketplace. Chinese and Mexican food tops the charts when it comes to ethnic cuisine choices when US consumer eat outside the home, but embracing the out of the ordinary attracts those diners who want something new – a trend we’re seeing across all segments. The everyday diner isn’t just satisfied eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner anymore. We have started to see things like bone marrow and pork belly all over menus – so why not embrace this trend and go outside the normal ethnic cuisine comfort zones we are used to. Concepts like Roti and Zoes Kitchen are doing just that and becoming breakout brands by serving Mediterranean cuisine in a quick and wholesome way.
Consumers are constantly demanding healthier foods in restaurants. While you will probably have may people still order the burger, having the option on your menu is a huge factor in being a breakout brand these days. Take for example, the salad chain Chop’t Creative Salad Co., whose slogan is “Better Tastes Better.” They use fresh ingredients with a customized prep, leaving them with a reputation for a healthy, but still satisfying diner experience. Being able to bring flavor and taste to the health conscious consumers make a lot of brands stand out and is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Follow the above rules and you’re I’m sure I’ll be reading about you as a breakout brand – but don’t forget to hone in on that culinary niche first!