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Scaling and Innovating in Fast Casual Dining: André Vener Discusses the Evolution and Strategy of Dog Haus
Growing With New Demographics
Fast Casual Nation, the trailblazing podcast that's been leading conversations and setting trends in the restaurant industry for years delves into the meat of what makes a food business thrive in a market that's hungry for change. Today, we're honored to have André Vener, Co-founder and Partner of Dog Haus, joining us for an insightful discussion. André, along with his team, took Dog Haus from a single location to a nationwide phenomenon by reimagining comfort food classics and cleverly navigating the industry's shifting landscape. We're going to explore Dog Haus' recipe for success, including innovative partnerships, harnessing ghost kitchen networks, and the launch of The Absolute Brands - a virtual food revolution. We discuss growing with new demographics and reaching new consumers in this ever-evolving fast-casual space. Buckle up and prepare for a hearty serving of industry insights that could change the way you look at your menu, your business, and the future of fast casual dining.
Founded in Pasadena, California in 2010, Dog Haus is a renowned franchise chain specializing in hot dogs, sausages, chicken, and burgers. From its humble beginnings, it has now grown into a national franchise, boasting over 50 traditional locations and 75 points of sale across 13 states, with new outlets every month.
A pivotal element of Dog Haus's strategy is leveraging consumer data analysis. The company works closely with third-party delivery platforms to understand trending products and subsequently refine their menu offerings. Central to Dog Haus's brand ethos is inclusivity, which has led to their commitment to ensuring menu accessibility for all, regardless of dietary restrictions or beliefs. This focus has resulted in a selection of hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and nitrate-free offerings, along with a range of plant-based protein alternatives.
When it comes to introducing a new item on their menu, Dog Haus adopts a detailed process. This involves recognizing a consumer need, ensuring its alignment with their brand identity, considering logistics and distribution, and maintaining stringent standards of taste and quality. They also consider an item's suitability for delivery and create a strategic marketing plan to generate interest before the launch.
Dog Haus's innovative use of technology is commendable. They have adopted 1Huddle, a gamification app, for employee learning and training — a tool used by respected entities such as the U.S. Air Force and major sports teams like the Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Rams. Furthermore, the use of the Ovation Reservations platform has played a crucial role in managing their significant delivery sales and obtaining real-time customer feedback, enabling the rapid resolution of issues and prevention of repeated problems.
Dog Haus's early adoption of plant-based options through a partnership with Impossible Foods has garnered recognition. The comprehensive menu caters to vegans, vegetarians, and those preferring regular meals, demonstrating respect for all dietary preferences. This early adoption not only positions Dog Haus as a choice for various dietary needs but also enhances its reputation as a trusted source for plant-based meals.
In 2019, Dog Haus ventured into the realm of ghost kitchens and has since launched five virtual brands, with BAD-ASS Breakfast Burritos leading the pack. These brands are transparently labeled as powered by Dog Haus, reinforcing their commitment to authenticity and transparency.
Dog Haus adheres to its core value of authenticity, especially in terms of expansion and maintaining cultural relevance. This dedication resonates especially with Gen Z customers, who appreciate transparency in food contents and brand identities.
Looking towards the future, Vener says they would like to have more people try their food and have the Dog Haus experience. The expansion plans for Dog Haus could include licensing, more stadiums, college campuses, and airports.
With a relentless focus on growth and innovation, Dog Haus continues to adapt and excel in the fast-casual dining landscape.