Fast Casual | April 2017 | By Danny Klein

Rapidly Expanding Modern Market Stays True to its Roots

Ingredients and transparency remain the hallmark of this fast casual 2.0 leader.
Modern Market cofounders Anthony Pigliacampo (left) and Rob McColgan remain dedictated to their original vision of ingredient-driven cuisine. Modern Market
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There's an anecdote from cofounder Anthony Pigliacampo that perhaps does the best job of explaining Modern Market's story. During a recent training session, he says, a future staff member shared an epiphany. "She was like, 'I can't believe you actually make this much of your food from scratch,'" Pigliacampo says. "I said, 'Well, it is on our website.'"

But, as the employee pointed out, there are many brands using today’s 2.0 lexicon to preach better-for-you, ingredient-driven cuisine without putting their money where their mouth is. They do it for the profit. They do it because everyone else is. Or they simply say they do it and then don’t.

At Modern Market, however, the more you pull back the curtain, the more the brand reflects the original vision from Pigliacampo and his business partner, Rob McColgan. Pigliacampo was an engineer and McColgan worked on Wall Street before they joined forces in Boulder, Colorado, and opened a restaurant that featured wholesome dishes with a holistic view. Since that opening in 2009, the brand has blossomed to 25 locations.

Pigliacampo says it “would be perfectly reasonable to have 150 units in 10 years,“ and the company envisions 10–15 new stores popping up in various markets each year. “To be honest,” Pigliacampo says, “we always saw this as a multiunit company. We knew if we could deliver on our promise, that we would have tremendous growth potential.”

As for how Pigliacampo sees this 150-unit vision unfolding, he says the chain’s strategy will remain reflective of its real estate. In Colorado, for example, where Modern Market has 13 units, Pigliacampo sees a traffic jam, in Denver especially. The oversaturation of concepts and the time it might take to wait for prime real estate to open up has led Modern Market on a hopeful search across the map. “We look for markets where they understand and get fast casual,” he says. “These tend to be higher-educated, higher-income areas. We’re always looking for the best fit.” Through corporate growth (for now, franchising isn’t in the cards), Modern Market has already moved into Arizona, Texas, and Washington, D.C.


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Pigliacampo sees the fast casual 2.0 arena as a limitless landscape, one in which Modern Market can claim more and more market share—and more and more loyal fans.

“[Customers] tell me things like, ’Eating your food has helped me lose weight. It’s turned around my life,’” Pigliacampo says. “We’re always looking back and thinking about what we’re trying to accomplish.”