For Shannon Keller, digital is the future of marketing. True Food Kitchen’s chief marketing officer, who took on the role in March as the first CMO in company history, has her sights set on capturing a changing audience and connecting with them beyond the four walls of the restaurant.
This upscale Mexican restaurant already had a solid formula before L Catterton scooped it up in late 2017. Now it’s even stronger; Uncle Julio’s closed 2018 with sales up 14 percent.
Umami Burger credits a lot of its success to the partnerships it makes.
“We have a special Artist Series program, which brings partners from a wide range of fields together to create incredible dishes that support a charitable cause,” says Sam Nazarian, CEO and chairman of sbe Entertainment, which owns the brand. Among the people the concept has partnered with so far are Daniel Boulud, Alton Brown, Jon Bon Jovi, and Cindy Crawford.
“We truly believe each brand we partner with creates a unique experience for our guests. We’re looking for the best global companies that are at the forefront of their respective industries,” Nazarian says. “At Umami Burger, we are less focused on trends and more focused on creating groundbreaking moments and memories for our customers.”
It seems to be working, because Umami Burger is growing. Founded in 2009, the chain now has 26 locations globally, with U.S. locations in California, New York, Illinois, and Nevada, and international restaurants in the Bahamas, Japan, and Mexico.
The company recently announced that it will open more than 100 Umami Burger restaurants across the globe over the next seven years in partnership with AccorHotels, which acquired a 50 percent stake in sbe Entertainment last year. —Amanda Baltazar
Native Grill & Wings
Native Grill & Wings continues to capitalize on Americans’ infatuation with wings. Earlier this year it landed on Entrepreneur‘s Franchise 500 list.
The Broken Yolk Café
It’s been a decade since an episode of “Man vs. Food” catapulted a local legend into a franchise frenzy. The San Diego independent now spans 34 locations across six states.
Founded in 2006 by brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, has grown to 31 units in four states with a brand built on three pillars: community, sustainability, and responsible sourcing for a decidedly chef-driven menu.
The Lost Cajun