After building a cult-like following of superfans and creating a protein-powered movement in Chicago ahead of its time, Protein Bar & Kitchen – a better-for-you, fast casual restaurant brand with $1.2M Average Unit Volumes – is primed to bring 100 locations nationwide over the next five years through franchising.
The active lifestyle brand is branching out to bring its menu of protein shakes, smoothies, breakfast scrambles, high-protein salads, wraps, and bowls customizable for all diets to new markets outside of Chicago. With a newly perfected franchise model that offers a smaller footprint along with a seamless dine-in, carry-out, delivery, mobile app + online ordering and catering customer experience, Protein Bar & Kitchen’s initial strategic franchising efforts will focus in Illinois and neighboring states with future growth planned for the Southeastern region.
“After taking the past few years to re-think and perfect our franchise model and our brand post-pandemic, it’s a huge milestone for us to officially re-announce franchising,” says Jeff Drake, CEO and President of Protein Bar & Kitchen. “It’s all come together, with customer loyalty rates and AUVs proving the adjustments to the menu, modernized and brightened décor and ordering convenience platforms are all working,” said Drake, who joined Protein Bar & Kitchen in 2017 with a charge to elevate the brand experience and get it on track for growth.
Inclusive for Every BODY
As one of the first better-for-you brands, Protein Bar & Kitchen brings 14 years of experience and the expertise necessary to succeed as a fast casual restaurant brand. With 63 percent of consumers now focusing on eating healthy at least some of the time, Protein Bar & Kitchen recognizes the importance of meeting the diverse of dietary needs of their guests and ensure every person who walks into their locations can enjoy a meal. Another premise is that health shouldn’t sacrifice flavor – every item should be both nutritious and delicious.
With a key focus on menu innovation, Protein Bar & kitchen has developed their menu with 15+ protein options, and rotates flavors and ingredients seasonally to keep the menu fresh and exciting.
“Our inclusive positioning focuses on the idea that everyone wants ‘to be a little better’ in some way, and we can help by offering options to accommodate dietary restrictions and diet choices, including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto-friendly, low-carb, high-carb, or paleo-friendly. “There’s something for ‘every BODY.’ For franchisees, that type of inclusivity opens the doors to a wider variety of customers and eliminates a need for niche marketing,” Drake says.
Taking Flight in Airports, Non-Traditional Venues
In addition to franchising in new markets, Protein Bar & Kitchen is increasing brand exposure and awareness and satisfying the needs of thousands of travelers through licensing agreements to open locations in O’Hare, La Guardia and Salt Lake City airports. The brand also draws a strong following at hospitals and campuses, with thriving corporate-owned locations at the lobby of Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago and at Northwestern University Henry Crown Sports Pavilion in Evanston, Il.
Protein Bar & Kitchen has made technology a priority for restaurant operators and dedicated fan base. As online ordering has grown in popularity, the brand integrated solutions that streamline orders placed through mobile, web, and third-party delivery providers. A Protein Bar & Kitchen app allows for seamless ordering, also allowing its more than 125,000 and counting users to earn loyalty rewards. In addition, a cloud- based training and support program for their growing team members ensures has helped reduce customer waiting times and improved order consistency.
“Simplifying operations for ease of use by guests, operators and team members has been a priority for us as we scale for growth,” says Chief Operating Officer Jared Cohen.