6 Concepts to Track (February 2018)

By 
Aimee Harvey, Managing Editor, Technomic

Casual dining

Toast Cafe

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Units: One

Hook: Toast Cafe showcases international cuisine for breakfast, with a focus on Jewish and Middle Eastern specialties. Highlights include Creamy Green Shakshuka, a dish of eggs, onions, spinach, cilantro, pesto and heavy cream; and Malawach, a thin layer of dough served with hard-boiled eggs, tomato sauce and pickles.

Casual dining

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Denver

Units: 23

Hook: This breakfast/brunch destination is popular not only for its creative and flavorful menu offerings, but also for its highly energetic and eclectic atmosphere. Anchored by a menu of classic egg dishes and pancakes (often set apart with a south-of-the-border flavor tweak), Snooze is also known for an array of morning cocktails and boozy coffee drinks.

Casual dining

Empire Cafe

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Houston

Units: One

Hook: Empire Café bills itself as “Houston’s original source for good coffee, delicious food and city culture.” Menu standouts include build-your-own omelets, four-egg frittatas “prepared Italian-style,” breakfast tacos and stuffed quesadillas, and an extensive beverage selection.

Casual dining

Batter & Berries

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Chicago

Units: One

Hook: This bustling BYOB offers inventive preparations of traditional breakfast and brunch favorites. Its spin on ultra-trendy chicken and waffles: Seasoned chicken is stuffed into a dense sweet-potato waffle, then topped with a crispy fried chicken breast, maple butter and nutmeg-infused hot sauce.

Casual dining

Maple Street Biscuit Co.

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Jacksonville, Fla.

Units: 22, including a Florida State University location

Hook: Scratch-made biscuits are the hallmark of the menu at Maple Street Biscuit Co. Towering biscuit sandwiches include The Five, featuring a fried chicken breast, smoked bacon, cheddar and sausage gravy; and The Squawking Goat, which layers a fried chicken breast with a fried goat-cheese medallion and pepper jelly.

Fast casual/full service

Bluestone Lane Coffee

Segment: Fast casual/full service

HQ: Melbourne, Australia

Units: 17 in U.S., primarily in New York and Philadelphia

Hook: Bluestone Lane Coffee’s modern, urban settings fluctuate between grab-and-go and full table service. It’s said that the Aussies invented avocado toast; at Bluestone, signature offerings include its Avocado Smash: toast topped with avocado, tahini, tomatoes and sunflower sprouts.