When curating the menu, Jacobs’ goal was to reach traditionalists as well as the millennial and health-conscious consumer.
“How can I bridge this gap to where it's one atmosphere that we could all eat together?” Jacobs says. “I wanted to first change the perspective of soul food because many times, what you hear all around the world, ‘Man, I love soul food, it’s amazing.’ But when people have it, sometimes they would say, ‘You know what? I could have this, but this is going to have to be my cheat day,’ or ‘Man, I'm gonna have to run after I do this.’ We wanted to get rid of that.”
Customers can expect the typical—and atypical—soul food dishes, like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and catfish, in addition to antelope, venison, gold-dusted chicken wings, jerked jackfruit pineapple bowls, barbecue glazed alligator ribs, and red velvet chicken and waffles.
“They will be able to connect to the dish because they know what it is,” Jacobs says. “But how it's plated, and how it’s been developed—it’s grandma, but it’s grandma 2.0.”
While opening 200 stores is a monumental feat, Jacobs and his team plan to grow responsibility by focusing on “five Ps”—people, product, place, price, and promotion. This means undergoing a selective process to find the right people while also putting forth a premium product that’s taken years to build in terms of food and technology.
The third tenet, “place,” has been soul food’s biggest deficit, Jacobs notes.
“They pick some of the most disenfranchised places to put them in,” he says. “We’re bringing soul food mainstream, meaning it’s open to everyone. We are going to invite people from all walks of life into a premium atmosphere because that's what the brand deserves. And that's what the people deserve, no matter what side of the tracks they come from.”
Celebrity’s price range is reflective in its identity. The brand defines itself as a quality casual, meaning a fine-dining experience without breaking the bank. Lastly, when it comes to promotion, Jacobs says it’s about franchisees not being “takers.” He wants operators to enter communities and give back, whether it’s honoring first responders or assisting with local education. The key is to get involved—that’s what will keep the doors open, Jacobs explains.