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Emerging Brands

Rice-focused Fieldtrip gets a minority investment to fuel its growth

Founders Table Restaurant Group, the parent of Chopt and Dos Toros, said the money will help the three-unit chain grow in New York City and elsewhere.
Photo courtesy Founders Table Restaurant Group

The parent company of Chopt and Dos Toros, along with an investment firm, has taken a “significant minority” stake in Fieldtrip, a three-unit fast-casual rice bowl concept, the company announced Friday.

Founders Table Restaurant Group and the Pendulum investment firm will help Fieldtrip expand throughout Manhattan, as well as enter other markets, via “aggressive franchising development,” Chopt CEO Nick Marsh said via email.

Fieldtrip was founded by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef JJ Johnson in 2019 in Harlem. The concept explores the idea of rice as a staple food around the world, using global flavors and techniques to create bowls made with heirloom grains, as well as “ethically sourced” vegetables and proteins.

“When we met JJ, we immediately knew that Fieldtrip should join Chopt and Dos Toros as part of the Founders Table family,” Marsh said. “In every one of our investments, it starts with the food. JJ is an amazing chef and his approach to ‘rice is culture’ has created an unbelievable unique and craveable fast-casual concept. The more time we spent together, the more we realized that we could do something special.”

Fieldtrip’s menu features items such as a Salmon Bowl with China Black Pineapple Fried Rice and piri-piri sauce, gumbo and, of course, rice crispy treats for dessert.

Johnson remains the majority owner of Fieldtrip, with Marsh joining its board.

Marsh called the deal a “groundbreaking recipe for expansion.”

“JJ has created a concept with overwhelming success and connection in the Harlem community,” Founders Table has 20 years of restaurant operations and development experience with an enormous investment in digital assets. Pendulum brings the financing and resources to support aggressive franchising development.”

Founders Table Restaurant Group was born in January 2020, when Chopt acquired Dos Toros Taqueria in a deal financed by private equity firm L Catterton. Chopt now has 70 locations and Dos Toros operates 21 restaurants.

In addition to the Fieldtrip partnership, Pendulum recently made a “significant investment” in Founders Table’s latest capital raise, along with L Catterton, according to a press release.

Founders Table and Pendulum, along with Fieldtrip, have a broader goal of expanding franchise ownership to under-represented groups, the companies said.

“In line with the mission of our partnership with Pendulum, this investment will not only accelerate Fieldtrip’s growth but will create significant opportunity for diverse founders to achieve franchise ownership in other parts of the country,” Marsh said in a statement.

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