Healthy, Scratch-Cooking Restaurant Franchise Used Technology and Trends to Successfully Open Locations and Meet Guests’ Needs
Modern Market Eatery, a fast-fine restaurant operator and franchisor focused on making nourishing food affordable, convenient, and delicious, took 2020 to create an all-encompassing, best-in-class customer experience, largely thanks to accelerated back-of-house and menu innovations.
Though COVID-19 posed obvious setbacks, Modern Market came out as leaders in creating a world where high-quality, nourishing food is as convenient as fast food. Success was driven primarily through concept innovation, proprietary technology, and pricing and labor efficiencies.
Introducing New Brand Initiatives
Not only was the franchise’s footprint expanded across its founding state of Colorado with a newly designed restaurant prototype, but Modern Market also recently introduced two new culinary concepts.
The first, a ghost kitchen test pilot in Tempe, AZ, has expanded the brand’s presence and delivery capabilities into a new market. The second, a virtual gourmet pizza concept, Honest Pizza Co., began offering delivery using existing kitchen infrastructure in established Modern Market restaurant locations. The concept has seen early success and is rolling out to more locations in Q1.
Meeting Guests Where They Are Skyrockets Off-Premise Sales
In addition to its growing footprint, Modern Market also continues to place a high priority on guests’ growing preferences for off-premise dining, leading Co-Founders Anthony Pigliacampo and Rob McColgan to accelerate the implementation of delivery, take-out, and curbside pickup options.
The franchise has met this change in consumer demands with innovative technology deployment – an idea that was in motion prior to the pandemic – and a menu that travels well via delivery. This was best demonstrated with Modern Market’s impressive 187 percent year-over-year increase in off-premise, digitally-ordered, same store sales.
“The events of 2020 and the accelerated shift towards digital orders presented a unique opportunity for us to conduct a deep analysis on each channel to ensure profitability,” said Pigliacampo, who prior to opening the first Modern Market worked as a product engineer. His engineering skill-set played a big part of Modern Market’s quick innovation and success in 2020.
Pigliacampo added, “We knew we still needed to provide our high-quality food and top-notch hospitality, but meet our guests where they were comfortable – on their phones and in their homes. The initiative resulted in a pricing strategy to make many of our third-party orders as profitable as they would be if the guest ordered directly from our website. We even saw a more than 19% average check increase over the previous year.”
Building a More Efficient Labor Model
Labor models were also evaluated, which enabled Modern Market to revamp how it staffs restaurants, increasing productivity to levels better than pre-coronavirus. This enabled Modern Market to leverage its proprietary protein program and sustainably-sourced ingredients to provide grocer boxes, family meals, meal kits, quarts and pints of sides, and scratch-made dressings, all of which could be delivered or picked up curbside.
“The pandemic has been tough on so many people and businesses, but as a company we saw it as an opportunity to maximize efficiency,” said McColgan, Modern Market’s CEO who prior to opening the first Modern Market in 2009, had a career in finance at Goldman Sachs. He’s utilized his strong financial background to help guide the brand to success through an adverse year.
“We have achieved a significant improvement in prime costs year-over-year,” added McColgan.
Future Growth Through Franchising
Modern Market looks forward to continuing its innovation and overall growth through franchising in 2021 and beyond. The brand hopes to gain growth momentum in current markets such as Austin, Dallas and Phoenix; contiguous markets including Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Houston, San Antonio; and areas with strong development potential for the brand—including larger DMAs and non-traditional venues such as airports, universities and hospitals.