Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

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1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 TREND Hot Biscuits! Holler & Dash Biscuit House HQ: Lebanon, Tenn. Parent company: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. Units: four open, two under construction Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily Average unit size: 2,000-2,500 square feet Average check: $10.50-$11.50, including beverages Best seller: Kickback Chicken biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, goat cheese, scallions, sweet-and-spicy pepper jelly Family-style chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has a sassy new fast-casual sibling. Holler & Dash Biscuit House, which made its debut just over a year ago, is the result of nearly two years of R&D, concept development and outside-the- barrel thinking. A confluence of trends led the Cracker Barrel team to zero in on biscuits as the crux of the new brand. "Southern cooking is still hot, and the breakfast/brunch/lunch op- portunity continues to grow. Even the fast-food guys have jumped in with breakfast all day," says Mike Chissler, COO at Holler & Dash. "We also looked at growing demand for good, quality food and premium, sustainable ingredients from local sources as driv- ing trends. And, of course, biscuits. Nothing says the South like biscuits. They're popular everywhere but such a tradition here. We looked at who was doing what and found that most of those focusing on biscuits were small entrepreneurs with a lot of passion and maybe a store or two. We saw a great opportunity with all these trends converging to create a high-quality, unique fast-casual concept around biscuit sandwiches and a modern twist on Southern hospitality." The decision was made early on to build the brand from the ground up rather than simply spin off a fast- casual counterpart to Cracker Barrel. To date, four units have been developed: in Homewood and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Celebration, Fla.; and Brentwood, Tenn. Two more will open this summer, and the company is eyeing additional mar- kets for expansion. The intent, however, is never to feel like a big chain or corporate entity. "Local" is a key part of the Holler & Dash zeitgeist, from its ingredient sourcing to its restaurant designs. On the design side, that means each location is unique. A few consis- tent branding elements appear — like an Instagrammable feature wall — but with variations on the theme geared to the local market. Local craftspeople and artisans create graphics, accessories and furnishings. Lighting, flooring, wall treat- ments and seating configurations are unique to each restaurant as well. Current units range from 1,900 to 3,300 square feet and are in varied markets for test purposes. Two are in renovated spaces in downtown historic buildings, while two are new-build endcap units. Chissler notes that going forward, the concept will be BY DANA TANYERI, Senior Contributing Editor B iscuit Love, Biscuits & Groovy, Biskit Junkie, Biscuitville, Biscuit Bitch (yes, three units, in Seattle), Biscuit Head, Seri- ous Biscuit — who would have thought that the humble southern staple could spur a wave of hip restaurant concepts? Traditional southern takes on biscuits provide a solid foundation on which to build a biscuit movement. But from there, operators from coast to coast and north to south are embracing biscuits as a blank slate for creating all manner of hot concepts and menu items. They're striking a chord with the authenticity-obsessed Millennial crowd as much as with older consumers for whom fresh-baked biscuits may evoke fond memories of Grandma's kitchen. After all, who doesn't love warm, buttery, flaky, comforting biscuits? They're the sort of handcrafted, old- fashioned comfort food that's ripe for rediscovery and reinterpretation. Here's a look at how three concepts — from chains with roots in the South to Millennial entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest — are introducing a whole new generation to the beauty of biscuits.

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