This open-ended food formula means it’s easy to mix in new menu items and dayparts, and Fogo is no stranger to adding both. Over the last couple of years, the chain has rolled out Bar Fogo, a lighter, daypart-widening small plates and happy hour menu; a Brazilian brunch that begins at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; and rotating seasonal menus. In 2018, dry-aged ribeye and new seafood options (including a chilled seafood tower) were introduced, and wagyu New York strip steaks were added in time for the holidays in 2019.
McGowan says that indulgent offerings will increase this year, along with the addition of more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options, including plant-based proteins. While Fogo has yet to officially introduce a plant-based alternative to its menu, McGowan says the brand is in the process of evaluating all of the new products on the market and expects to announce new items in the near future.
“We like to say when people come to Fogo de Chão, if they like something, we have it. Bigger chains are adding plant-based right now, so it’s relevant and people are aware of it,” McGowan says. “I do not believe it will overtake items like an indulgent wagyu steak, but we see it as an innovation to support where the customer wants to be and further eliminate the veto vote.”
Vegetarian and vegan offerings are already in place at Fogo. The Market Table offers 15-20 superfoods at any moment that are primarily gluten-free, nut-free whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, a vegan menu is already available, and a parmesan-seared cauliflower steak was added at the end of 2019.
New plant-based proteins would bolster this host of already-existent meatless choices, in keeping with Fogo’s classic meat-carving dining experience. McGowan says a fresh plant-forward menu will make its debut in June, and some plant-based alternatives could be among its offerings. In addition to finding a place on the vegan menu, he says that plant-based meats will be mixed into the Market Table and also served around in the traditional churrasco experience.
The experiential updates extend beyond the menu into restaurant and bar design, too. Fogo is in its fourth year of reimaging its restaurants; the Market Table has been refreshed, and dry-aged lockers for dry-aging and curing meats in-house have been put in place at certain stores. The reimages also include shifting the churrasco butchery into the center of the dining room, as well as bar updates.
“The immediacy of our concept is an advantage, but we realized, once we updated the bar, that people are lingering and staying longer,” McGowan says. “So we’re reformulating the bar environment to make it more comfortable and more relevant for our customers to linger and enjoy.”
The bar reformulations are top-of-mind this year. This part of the reimaging involves elevated scotch programs, new seating arrangements, and (testing now in several locations) gentle live bossa nova music on Thursdays, Friday, and Saturdays.