This week we take a look at five of the hottest brands that are making waves in the foodservice business, and why they are staying on top. For a variety of reasons, including customer service, staff training and upkeep, and appealing to modern trends, &pizza, The Crack Shack, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Garden Bar, and Mulberry & Vine all standout from the crowd. Each of these joints are leading the field in terms of trend relevance and offer consumers that little extra that goes a long way. What are their secrets to success?


Washington, D.C.-based &pizza was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur and political activist Michael Lastoria. Established initially as a counter-culture pizza brand, the &pizza brand has become synonymous with happy employees. Not only have &pizza been at the forefront of the foodservice industry’s labour reforms, but their technology based initiatives have been well received by customers and staff alike. Their general levels of staff wellbeing are so high that around 20 percent of them have got the ampersand tattooed onto their bodies. &pizza also cater to dietary restrictions without question—offering most meals gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. &pizza’s response to convenience-driven trends in today’s market indicate the success that technology can play in a customer’s experience. Additionally, free-from offerings are increasingly sought after, and with the range that &pizza offers, it is easy to see why a customer with a dietary restriction would enjoy the choice the chain provides. Perhaps most importantly, employee satisfaction is something that has tangible benefits—word of mouth is a powerful tool, and happy employees will spread the good word. Also, happy employees means increased productivity and a resoundingly strong brand image.

The Crack Shack

The Crack Shack debuted in 2015 in California and marries premium fried chicken and a casual and lively atmosphere. Crack Shack locations are known for their mature, yet entertaining spaces, where people can just as easily relax on the patio, or retire to a booth dining area. The restaurant cooks up Jidori chicken—'the Kobe beef of chicken’—mixed with other fresh and organic produce to deliver a top-class chicken experience. This combination of exceptional produce and an inviting dining location is perfect for attracting their upscale fast-casual diners. The Crack Shack appeals to the modern consumer as the harmony between fried chicken, and an attractive dining setting is not something that happens often. People love fried chicken, but perhaps the market had been missing a place where you could devour a pack of wings, but also dine in at a business meeting, for instance. Although KFC tastes excellent, it’s probably not the best place to hold a formal business meeting. The quality of a product is also something that consumers look for more so nowadays—provenance is everything.

The Garden Bar

The Garden Bar is the perfect concept for any environmentally, and health-conscious consumer. They serve seasonally governed salads in compostable takeaway bowls (for their takeaway customers), and porcelain bowls for their dine-in customers. Takeaway guests also have the option of getting their salad in a plastic bowl that can be returned to The Garden Bar for washing and reusing. The menu features an array of vegetables, fruits, nuts, superfoods and dressings, all of which can be chopped and changed for the ultimate customised experience. For those that often struggle to find a salad place that does a ‘proper’ salad—a range of fresh ingredients—that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, The Garden Bar has you covered. This mixture of health-conscious offerings and responsibly packaged food appeals to the modern consumer who is generally concerned with what is going in their body, and what is happening to the container it is coming in.

Mulberry & Vine

Mulberry & Vine launched in 2013 to a market without much competition. Their offerings of seasonal vegetables and sustainable proteins were an instant hit. Perhaps what makes them special, has been their ability to adapt to the changing dining environment. They have remained at the forefront of the scene with their appealing menu and contemporary fitout, and have rejigged operations to cater to the market's desires of convenience and sustainability. They have taken to delivery wholeheartedly, and offer their customers a fresh menu with healthy and ethically sourced ingredients both instore and online.

The Maple Street Biscuit Company

The Maple Street Biscuit Company proves that doing things the conventional way isn’t always the best. Their entire concept is built around community and lifestyle. Instead of scouring for premium real estate, they first find a ‘manager’, which they dub community leader, and they then build the new venue around them. Maple Street Biscuit Company co-founder Scott Moore said, “We hire good people, teach them what right looks like and get out of their way.” The passion that the company has for their staff, and their premium biscuit-centric offerings has translated into a profitable track record and growth beyond their core Florida market. Again, success can come in all shapes and sizes, from interesting offerings to internal initiatives in the way of staff training and incentivising. The Maple Street Biscuit Company are proving that staff matter, and that appealing to consumers through brand image is just as rewarding as having an enticing menu.