BBQ: Fast casual’s next hot category?


ten 50 bbq

Fast-casual barbecue spots, a bright star in an already shining restaurant segment, are particularly poised for growth, according to Chicago researcher Technomic. As more evidence of the potential, a number of established restaurant leaders are heating up the segment, launching their own fast-casual barbecue ventures—and providing additional competition. Here’s a look at who’s fanning the flames.

Chop Daddy's

Where: Venice and Culver City, Calif.
Units: 2
Backer: AdVantage Restaurant Partners, co-founded by Adam Fleischman, founder of Umami Burger
The buzz: AdVantage partnered with competitive griller Eric Solton in August 2014 and just opened the second unit in January. According to Los Angeles, the goal is for AdVantage to help bolster the bar program, secure financing and expand to a dozen locales in California.

Uncle Willie’s BBQ

Where: Cheshire, Conn.
Units: 2 (with plans to franchise)
Backer: Jake’s Franchising, franchisor of 100-plus unit fast casual Wayback Burgers
The buzz: Earlier this year, Jake’s announced it would begin franchising the regional concept in April. Said Wayback Burgers’ president, John Eucalitto, in a news release, “We forecast extreme growth potential both in the Northeast and across the country.”

Urban Bar-B-Que Company

Where: Maryland and Virginia
Units: 5
Backer: 100-unit franchisor Ledo Pizza, based in Annapolis, Md.
The buzz: Ledo Pizza partnered with the decade-old, fast-casual barbecue concept with the goal of expanding it throughout the U.S. and Canada. A year and a half after inking the deal, it’s still holding at five units, but its website lists three more on tap for the Washington, D.C. metro area.


Where: Richardson, Texas
Units: 1 (more planned)
Backer: Larry Lavine, founder of Chili’s
The buzz: The 40-year industry vet’s spot has diners line up and place orders outside at the carving pit near the smokers before heading inside to grab one of 300 seats. “Food costs are a little higher than the typical fast casual,” Lavine told Restaurant Business magazine last November. “But we’re geared for high volume and lower labor.”

This article originally appeared in Restaurant Business magazine

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources