Foodservice Equipment & Supplies: Restaurateur Shares Keys to Future Success

Foodservice Equipment and Supplies, Gregg Majewski, Keys to Success, Future, Tech Innovation, Operational Efficiency, Smart Design, Human Oversight

Craveworthy Brands was recently featured on Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

In today’s restaurant industry, building in tech and efficiencies from the ground up is not just a must — some say it’s imperative for “future-proofing” brands for long-term success. By the same token, technology must pair well with design for an operation to have a chance at reaching its fullest potential.

“Every time we buy a brand we find the most efficient way to drive sales and ROI for investors — through equipment investments and good design,” says Gregg Majewski, founder and CEO of Craveworthy Brands, a fast-casual restaurant platform company that since its inception in January 2023 has developed a portfolio includes 14 brands with 200-plus restaurants in just 15 months.

Home to such brands as BD's Mongolian Grill, Dirty Dough, Flat Top Grill, Genghis Grill, Krafted Burger Bar + Tap, Lucky Cat Poke Co., Pastizza Pizza & Pasta, Scramblin' Ed's, Soom Soom Mediterranean, The Budlong Southern Chicken, Wing It On!, and most recently, Sigri Indian BBQ, Craveworthy Brands also announced the acquisition of Untamed Brands, the multi-brand operator and parent company of taim Mediterranean Kitchen and Hot Chicken Takeover. With each brand takeover, Majewski, a longtime restaurant concept developer whose resume includes CEO of Mongolian Concepts Restaurant Group and Jimmy John’s, focuses on kitchen design efficiencies first — and then makes investments in energy-efficient, multi-use equipment packages second. Both, however, are part of the overall performance package.

Design Never Rests

Even though Majewski’s team focuses on working with suppliers to buy equipment pieces at scale across the various brands and secure the best warranties “and use the right services,” good design remains a focus.

“Before we make any changes, we tape out the kitchen equipment and walk the steps,” Majewski says. “We do that no matter what the concept is or how long it’s been around. It’s easy when you have 3,000 square feet of space to work with to want to build a 2,000 square-foot kitchen but we know the kitchen only needs to be 500 square feet. That extra space is where efficiencies go to die.”

Even when establishing new prototypes, as one just was for Genghis Grill, for example, “we’re constantly reviewing and changing to improve,” he says. “Every brand we acquire goes through a major redesign, and even then, I don’t think a brand is ever done redesigning.”

Tech Investments

When it comes to a brand’s tech stack, digital transformation is imperative for success in today’s industry as it helps concepts adapt to changing customer preferences and maintain a competitive edge.

“Technology is a huge component of what we do — it’s not just about a great POS platform — we also have to have highly efficient equipment and be energy compliant and as green as we can be because we have a customer base who cares about that, even if it doesn’t always save us as much financially.”

Building out the physical space for new technologies is a must — and that’s where restaurant designers play a key role.

“All of our restaurants are designed to feature the newest kiosks, mobile ordering pickup areas, call windows for numbers showing when orders ready — those features are extremely important in today’s [fast-casual] world,” Majewski says. “They almost have to be a given; you really can’t not have all those things today.”

Balancing Equipment

Majewski says his team works with suppliers to negotiate for the same pieces of equipment across brands to maximize economies of scale, but there’s room for flexibility. Combi ovens represent low-hanging, fast ROI investments, but tandoor ovens are the hallmark of authentic cooking and customer experience for Sigri, even if they’re not as efficient or affordable as other items.

When it comes to higher-tech, multiuse equipment investments. But Majewski says his team has also “been playing with robots and robotic arms” in their test kitchen in the Chicago suburbs — a facility he used and maintained for his concept development before founding Craveworthy Brands.

“I have been using robotic arms in the manufacturing world for seven or eight years,” says Majewski, noting his non-food-industry investment. “In foodservice, though, cooking is still an art compared to pulling parts for a factory line in manufacturing,” he says.

That said, balance is key. Craveworthy Brands is testing robotic arms for mundane tasks like removing fries from a fryer, folding boxes and assembling orders, but not always for different types of cooking that require more finesse and human oversight.

Still, “any efficiencies we can build and labor we can eliminate at the back of the house frees up staff for better hospitality and service at the front of the house,” Majewski adds.

So, what’s the takeaway? He circles back to the craft of it all.

“Cooking is still an art — that’s not going to go away — you’ll never see robots in fine dining, for example,” Majewski says. “We have to find other ways to lower the cost of buildouts and improve efficiencies in design, first, while also making smart equipment investments. But, even if we use kiosks, we still have people at the front. Stepped-up hospitality should, and always will be, the focal point of what we do in this industry.”

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