This Struggling Fast Casual Chain Is Making a Comeback After Several Closures
Regional fast-casual Honeygrow has had a challenging few years. Even before the pandemic, the East Coast brand struggled with closures of restaurants it had just added to its portfolio, and CEO Justin Rosenberg decided to postpone further expansion until the young chain could regain its footing. Then the pandemic hit and the brand, specializing in healthful stir-frys and salads, ended up losing as much as 70% of its sales, according to Restaurant Business.
And while you might write off a restaurant business that went into an already catastrophic 2020 with some weaknesses, Honeygrow has made a surprising recovery. Its year-to-date sales for 2021 have surpassed 2020 by 50% and even 2019 by 27%. "The company is doing great," Rosenberg told Restaurant Business. "We're more profitable than we've ever been."
Besides a rise in sales, the chain is also back to its plans of expansion. In 2018, it shut down two fairly new Chicago locations because of operational challenges and high rents. It also retired its offshoot, the small-restaurant concept Minigrow, which was to help it expand into urban areas where operational costs were higher.
But the chain managed to open two new restaurants during the pandemic and has six more openings slated for 2022. It currently operates 25 locations across Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, and its future expansion is going to focus on these regions as well.
So how did Honeygrow manage to turn things around? It was quick to pivot into off-premise channels when its sales began to plummet, offering curbside pickup and third-party delivery as early as March of 2020. It also began selling its locally sourced ingredients—like a variety of noodles, zucchini, carrots, avocados, strawberries, apples, and eggs—directly to consumers, encouraging them to recreate their menu items at home.
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