The road from there to 300 calls for rapid, concentric expansion that leverages CoreLife’s growing name recognition. It’s something the concept invested heavy in from the outset, with market and real estate research and infrastructure, including personnel and online tools and materials.
As for the product itself, CoreLife has evolved in preparation for a broad push. It’s gone from a very niche, grain-bowl, kale salad, kind of brand, to one that spreads out with accessibility and familiarity in mind.
An upcoming choose-two program. More sides geared toward dinner. A heavy focus on clean proteins, prepared in-store on a live grill. “We’ve seen an evolution in how people eat healthy,” Davis says. “I think a few years ago it was very pointed in one specific direction for a lot of folks. But what we’re seeing now is a much broader sense of what works for every person. There are a lot of different ways to get there.”
CoreLife just rolled out catering a few months ago. It’s considering an $8.45 choose two price point for any small bowl option, and balancing make-your-own items with curated ones, especially on the bone broth side, to help people get introduced to its menu.
Because of the suburban focus, CoreLife does about 55 percent of its business for lunch and 45 percent dinner. For comparison, more than 75 percent of Panera’s sales take place post-11 a.m., but dinner only accounts for roughly a quarter to a third.
“Our big mission right now is looking at how do we make this concept more accessible to more people,” Davis says. “We think it’s sort of like being the Planet Fitness of the health concepts. We don’t want to be the highest end or fanciest one. We want to be the one that everyone can go to. That works for them. Makes a difference.”
Part of that is the price. Average check at dinner is $12. Davis says CoreLife has been able to live in the $5.95–$12.95 range because it’s avoided opening in major markets. It’s also making everything in-house and buying source ingredients. There are no freezers or microwaves. All foods are free of trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, other artificial additives and GMOs. The chicken and steak used are sustainably raised and never given antibiotics or hormones, and the bone broth is slow-simmered all day.
The small-market approach has paid off in other ways, too. CoreLife’s local-store marketing doesn’t require any hard-selling. The brand goes right to what Davis calls “the influencers of health and wellness” in its communities. Leaders meet with gym owners, yoga studio heads, medical professionals. And these people are more than willing to relate to the brand’s values, especially considering there isn’t much to compare with.
“We just help them understand what our menu is, what our philosophy is, where we come from,” Davis says. “And that ultimately we want them to be our best customers.”
Close to opening, CoreLife hosts VIP events and brings influencers in. It opens Facebook up and tries to create a following of 6,000 or so followers before the doors open. And again, CoreLife becomes a destination restaurant when it drops into these markets.
“For us, it’s not just about being another restaurant brand,” Davis said. “We really want to help people figure this [eating healthy] thing out. We found ourselves that eating food and having a slightly healthy lifestyle really can make a huge difference without a whole lot of effort. The food does the work.”