Restaurant Industry Insights

Breakout Restaurant Brands

Nation’s Restaurant News recently came out with their Breakout Brands of 2024. These brands offer diversity in menu and experience and are just beginning their flight into multi-unit expansion. Let’s see if we can glean some awareness of what makes these brands stand out.

For the Breakfast and Brunch Crowd

Square recently released its quarterly Restaurant Industry Report. Interestingly, it found that, as of December 2023, consumers ordered more breakfasts for delivery than any other mealtime. The first meal of the day is gaining traction. According to Technomic’s Crystal Ball, amidst stubborn inflation, consumers will lean into breakfast in 2024 as a less expensive but still fill their “going out to a restaurant” need. On the weekends, expect brunch to be the new dinner.

HashTAG must have seen the writing on the wall. This chef-driven breakfast and brunch spot is part of TAG Restaurant Group, a Denver-based restaurant collection founded by Chef Troy Guard. Their goal? To provide “immersive culinary adventures” with bold, worldly flavors and locally sourced ingredients. It sounds like they’ve captured some of the most sought-after aspects of today’s dining experience.

The group’s concepts include Los Chingones – Badass Mexican, Guard and Grace, Bubu, and HashTAG. Between them all, they’ve captured about 13 locations and growing. Their flagship restaurant, TAG, a fine-dining restaurant, closed after 12 years.

HashTAG’s tag? “Home of Boozy Brunch™.” The brand has two locations and is gearing up for five or six in the next few years. Their signature dish is breakfast hash, but you’ll also find Mexican-inspired items and soon-to-be-dishes derived from the chef’s youth in Hawaii.

According to NRN, their average per-person check comes to about $23.

The Sort of Salad Concept

Fresh salads with organic ingredients locally sourced sounds like a winner. What started at a farmer’s market, Alfalfa now consists of four brick-and-mortar restaurants, two in New Jersey and two in California. Their restaurant menu has also expanded and includes wraps like Peruvian Chicken, breakfast burritos, and homemade doughnuts.

The owners grew up in New Jersey together and include Andrew Arrospide, Daniel Londono, and Ben and Dan Sobsey. Their mission? To “inspire healthier communities through balanced food & joyful experiences.” Nice.

Another salad concept taking the world by storm, or at least the U.S., is Salad and Go. This drive-thru concept plans a breakout year, opening about one unit a week in 2024. The concept uses Central Kitchens for made-to-order options. They’re also keeping the price low at $7 for a salad with protein. Their mission is to resolve the gulf between wellness and accessibility, believing everyone deserves healthy, fresh, delicious food. The brand currently has 130 locations. 

Star-Based Vegan Food

Another brand focusing on affordable and delicious food has a comedian in their corner, Kevin Hart. Hart House was the brainchild of Hart, who is a founder and investor. It focuses on plant-based foods, like the signature plant-based patties in their double burger. Even the shakes are 100% plant-based with pea protein. The food is proprietary chicken and beef analogs. They currently have four locations in Southern California.

According to VegNews, industry reports from Whole Foods and The Specialty Food Association suggest simplified meat alternatives and plant-based seafood will continue to grow in popularity with consumers in 2024.

These reports found that these foods will revert from processed ingredients to whole foods like mushrooms, legumes, tempeh, and walnuts. Consumers are aiming for plant-based foods that are healthy and transparently sourced. Plant-based seafood is typically made from pea, wheat, soy, and konjac, a root vegetable growing in Asia.

Other Brands on the NRN Radar

Some of the other brands that made NRN’s breakout status include:

  • Tacotarian: A five-unit plant-based Mexican concept that started in Las Vegas.
  • Avli: A five-unit inspired Greek concept focusing on healthy, high-quality, authentic food that’s hard to make at home.
  • Vicious Biscuit: Serving plate-sized, chef-crafted, made-from-scratch biscuits with creative pairings, Vicious Biscuit started as a catering company in Charleston, S.C. There are currently seven units with plans for many more.
  • Doughbird Pizza & Rotisserie: This Fox Restaurant Concept focuses on unique pizzas and rotisserie chickens and is expected to reach five units by the end of 2024.
  • CHOP5: Five restaurant franchisees came together to create this chef-created chopped salad brand. They currently have three units and are growing.

The Commonality

Some common ingredients among these breakout brands include plant-based food, menus centered around health-conscious cuisine, and food that’s difficult to make from home, a draw for many of today’s consumers. From starting in a farmer’s market to a catering company, these brands demonstrate the enduring spirit of many in the restaurant industry, forging ahead in a challenging yet incredibly rewarding industry. We wish them well. 

At Emerging Concepts, we use predictive analytics, customer intelligence, and our years as leading real estate and restaurant industry experts to help restaurant brands and entertainment concepts strategically expand across the country. To learn more about our process or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.

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