QSR January 2023




walk into some of our other competitors, they got a pink wall with black writing, right? Like ain’t nothing cool about any of them. That’s probably where the term cookie cutter came from. No one’s ever done a cookie concept like we have.” Wyland was named CEO, and Spencer Sabatasso, with past executive stops at Fat burger, Sweetwater Prime Seafood, Baja Sharkeez, and consulting firm Fransmart, joined as vice president of franchise devel opment. Cookie Plug transitioned quite easily into franchising, Wyland says. Not only because of its unique product, but also streamlined operations. Each location averages 800 square feet, and equipment packages are inexpensive; stores use vent less convection ovens and most don’t need a grease trap. Dough is copacked offsite so employees aren’t baking completely from scratch inside the shops. Cookie Plug can open with one employee, and that person can run the whole store until the after noon shift, which only needs two workers. For evening times on a Friday or Satur day, three may be needed. With all that taken care of, Wyland just needed to focus on standardizing decor and ensuring each shop featured the same layout. Initial costs to open a store are roughly $100,000, and labor expenses run about 16 percent, trans lating to better margins for franchisees. In November, there were two franchise locations in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, which both opened to about 300 people in line. Wyland says the plan is to open one store per week throughout 2023. There are core markets Cookie Plug wants to target, but Wyland feels the brand can work anywhere, even with the hip hop and graffiti. That includes suburbia. The cookie segment saw a f lurry of action in 2022. Crumbl Cookies surpassed 500 locations in its f ifth year of business, and f iled lawsuits against smaller con cepts Crave and Dirty Dough over similar branding and packaging. Then there’s Chip City Cookies, which received a $10 million investment from Danny Meyer’s growth fund, Enlightened Hospitality Investments. Wyland refers to it as the dawn of the cookie wars. However, he doesn’t think anyone will ever look at Cookie Plug and mistake it for another brand. q Ben Coley is a Senior Editor at QSR . He can be reached at bcoley@ wtwhmedia.com .

larger corporations like Chipotle to becom ing pioneers by “integrating DEI a part of their systematic policies and procedures internally,” he says. “They offer Employee Resource Groups, mentorship, and other programming to ensure a culture of an inte grated community where employees feel equal opportunities for upward mobility, while fostering a sense of belonging. They are also incorporating DEI as a part of their brand, able to meet the diverse preferences of their consumers, and offering training to franchise owners, [and] this all translates down to the consumer-facing community. From executive compensation to employee engagement and customer experience, they are industry leaders.” He adds some smaller quick-serves are doing a great job by focusing on driving more female own ership. They are also building stronger partnerships with suppliers and ensuring they share similar values and best practices toward recognizing DEI. “The [quick-service] world faces a very different challenge than full service dining establishments,” Kutac elaborates. “The low price points that the consumer has been used to for decades has led to operat ing level decisions that has resulted in a lot of what we are talking about. The need for change—and quite frankly the consumer needs to adjust as well. So that comes from leadership, that comes to equity of pay. Here’s what I always like to ask people: What are we as a society willing to pay? Do we really expect a 99-cent burger still? We shouldn’t. Not from the treatment of animals, not from the methane emission leading to carbon change, not to the treat ment of the employee. There’s a massive way to make this change, and we as con sumers can make that decision with our wallets.” Having a consistent workforce that is more invested in their jobs because they feel invested in as important. “When you look at all the statistics on retention and why people leave, people don’t say ‘because I couldn’t do my job,” Ruben stein adds. “The resume got them in the door, but it’s not like they left. People leave people, they don’t leave jobs. For the most part, it’s that basic human need that we all have to feel seen, valued, and heard, and it’s more important than a company might realize.” q

“Too Good to Go, I would say, really gave us a very tangible, almost dramatic first step, that is actually easy to track and report, and got the whole company around the zero waste goal,” Trindle Mersch says. “It’s just really accessible for everybody across the company, both home office folks and retail folks—it’s really clear what we’re doing.” DIG, an east coast chain with 30 units, is also working with Too Good to Go to limit its food waste. Cameron Bersh, manager of offsite strategy and operations for the company, was already a fan of the app before the brand partnered with it. “I’ve actually always been a very passion ate Too Good to Go customer,” she says. Like Philz, the brand decided to test the waters first and complete a pilot in two of its New York City locations. Bersh says the brand really enjoyed the test run, citing the ease of implementation, and positive cus tomer and operator feedback. This past fall, DIG decided to launch Too Good to Go with its entire system. Typically, each DIG location has a target of five surprise bags per day. “They know they are supposed to make those five surprise bags every day,” Bersh says. “They don’t have to actually check the portal or anything unless they are conscious of the fact that their waste is going to be either up or down. It’s quite seamless from the logistics perspective.” DIG has been able to work with its oper ators by looking at internal reporting to gauge how many surprise bags they should be selling, Bersh says. It has been a way for them to engage with the platform. “I feel like the element of the product where the operator is able to add additional surprise bags has really generated a lot of buy-in from them—for them to be more conscious on a daily perspective of how much waste they are generating,” she says. “That abil ity to toggle upwards and downwards has been really awesome to see a lot of opera tors actively engaging with.” Looking toward the future, Too Good to Go wants to expand its presence in the U.S. “Our goal is to be everywhere,” Sim mons says. “Our aim is to be that channel for consumers to take action against climate change and against food waste themselves, by just buying a bag of food that’s delicious and well-priced.” q

IsabellaSherk is a StaffWriter at QSR . She canbe reached at isherk@ WTWHmedia.com

BryanReesman isaregular contributor to QSR and isbased inNewYork.


JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com

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