When a Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop closed next to the flagship location of fast-casual chain Slapfish, founder and CEO Andrew Gruel decided to turn the space into a shellfish and beer bar spinoff called Raw Bar by Slapfish. The space in Huntington Beach, Calif., didn’t have a hood, but it had plumbing for a restaurant, making for a relatively inexpensive flip into an adjacent oyster bar. While the concepts will remain separate, they do have some shared elements—kitchen, point-of-sale system and staff—and customers will be able to see from one space to the other via porthole-style windows.
Gruel says labor will be more efficient, especially during slower times, where cooking staff can potentially man both concepts. While Raw Bar mainly offers cold preparations, it will utilize the Slapfish kitchen for cooked options. One position unique to Raw Bar: the unofficially dubbed “oyster sommelier,” which Gruel says is likely to be him or his wife, initially. The room is too small for a maitre d’, with 16 counter seats and another 20 at booths and communal tables, but this person can walk around the room at busy times and explain the oysters. “It will be a fun add-on,” he says.
New franchise option
The two restaurants are about 3,500 square feet combined, a size Gruel says landlords are offering at a better price. He is likely to add it as an option for franchisees—given a 4,000-square-foot space, they can put in the fast casual alongside the oyster and beer bar.
Shared menu opportunity
To encourage guests to stay, and hopefully hit a $25 check average, diners at Raw Bar can order from the Slapfish menu. The chilled seafood—oysters, smoked fish, ceviche, seafood charcuterie and more—is only available at the oyster bar, though, as are the 16 craft beers (priced between $2 and $5), sake and wine. This is made easier by the use of a single POS system that has more than one terminal, as well as handheld devices.