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Emerging Brands

Everbowl’s pandemic pivot accelerates its path to growth

The fast casual’s switch to a 100% franchised model turned into a silver lining that’s spurring expansion.
Photograph courtesy of Everbowl

In August, Everbowl launched its 46th store, opening a location in St. Louis, Mo. The fast casual has 140 additional stores in development and is planning on opening 12 to 15 a year, expanding its presence in Texas, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida—all operated by franchisees.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were all company-owned,” said Jeff Fenster, CEO of the fast-casual concept. “We launched franchising during COVID.”

While the pandemic put the kabosh on development for a number of chains, Fenster saw it as an opportunity to transform Everbowl’s business model.  

“There were many displaced workers, both in the restaurant industry and in other channels, who wanted to make a healthy lifestyle part of their career path. They seized the Everbowl opportunity,” he said.

The pandemic also brought increased awareness to ingredients that can help build immunity, and the concept’s menu fits right in. The brand offers a menu filled with healthy superfoods that are the base of its bowls and beverages.

Everbowl also promotes an active lifestyle, and franchisees are invited to “unevolve”—a word the fast casual trademarked as part of its mission statement “to move and eat the way we were meant to.”

In 2019, Serruya Private Equity invested $3 million in Everbowl to fuel its growth. Serruya is very into franchising, said Fenster, and that support spurred the transition to an all-franchise model. Plus, the chain is vertically integrated and builds out its own stores, making for a lower entry point, he said.

Retired NFL star Drew Brees became an investor and franchisee earlier this year, with plans to expand into Louisiana and Indiana. Like several other fast casuals, the chain is also looking to open more nontraditional units in stadiums and college towns. Currently there are locations at San Diego’s PETCO Park, San Diego State University and close to the campus of University of Central Florida in Orlando. Fenster expects to add more of these smaller footprint stores in the future.

He is also actively growing the “Laterbowls” retail arm of the business. The line includes a variety of packaged, preblended bowls delivered to customers’ homes.

“We created this line during COVID and partnered with QVC to market frozen packs of bowls directly to consumers,” said Fenster. “They turned out to be QVC’s top plant-based product of 2020.”

Within the next couple of months, Everbowl locations will expand access to Laterbowls, selling ready-to-eat acai, pitaya, vanilla and other popular preblended bowls directly from its stores. These can be purchased to go and frozen at home.  

Fenster is also exploring drive-thrus, where convenient, and co-branded spaces in Canada.

“We attack the plant-based eating style from several different angles,” said Fenster, “and have a strong commitment to bring our mission to more communities.”

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