BBQ: Fast casual’s next hot category?
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.
Where: Venice and Culver City, Calif.
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 Eater.com 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
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.
TEN 50 BBQ
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