The first indication that Fox Restaurant Concepts is playing the fast-casual game different is its chefs. Each of FRC’s 11 Flower Child stores employs an executive chef supported by at least two sous chefs plus a regional chef charged with ongoing culinary training. There’s a five-day work week for kitchen leaders. Full benefits and sales bonuses, too. Your average bakery-cafe chain is not making that same investment. Nor are most spending $150–500,000 per store on back-of-house equipment on par with full-service kitchens. Or employing a mixologist and certified sommelier as national beverage director.
FRC is investing in all that and more because its founder, nine-time James Beard Award nominee, Sam Fox, believes in pushing the notion of what chain restaurants should be. And, with an initial minority investment and ongoing capital from The Cheesecake Factory, there seems to be no limit to where FRC can take its “healthy food for a happy world” approach to fast-casual bakery.
For now, national growth is the focus. The Arizona-based chain opened it first East Coast location in Atlanta in mid-July. Another four locations are scheduled to open in Colorado, the D.C. area and Houston by year’s end. Ten more are planned for 2019.
“We don’t really have a one-size fits all approach to where we grow,” says FRC founder and CEO Sam Fox. “We’re very flexible; 3,100 to 4,000-sqft with street access and parking.”
What every market will have in common a veggie-based menu akin to options found at former FRC sister brand, True Food Kitchen, which was sold in 2017. In fact, much of the team that developed the concept are behind the scenes at Flower Child, including Chief Culinary Officer Clint Woods. That kinship is evident in Flower Child’s menu of organic, locally-sourced, vegetarian and vegan dishes inspired by global cuisines. At any given moment, Woods says, a Flower Child diner might eat off a plate with ingredients from all seven continents.