Photos: Inside Freshii’s incubator concept
Is opening a restaurant in an entrepreneurial hub the best way to solicit operational ideas? The fast-casual chain is about to find out.
Freshii’s latest Chicago location, which sits at the entrance of tech hub 1871, is set up as an incubator of sorts, soliciting creative solutions from the startup companies that set up shop next door.
Through its Project </Pioneer> campaign, Freshii is seeking ideas within eight categories—spanning menu, disposal, refrigeration, efficiency and seating—from members of 1871 and entrepreneurs around the globe.
Once an idea is chosen, it will be tested at the 1871 restaurant anywhere from one month to one year, and may later move into a larger test or roll out to the entire Freshii chain.
Since the store opened in September, a majority of idea entries have been under the “team” category, an area the brand considers a key priority.
At the 1871 location, some of the decor, including this backlit sign, was repurposed from tables used by the space’s former occupant, an Intelligentsia coffee shop.
Customers love the new store, franchisee Alex Blair says. “To have a brand like Freshii inside 1871 gives startups the opportunity to fuel properly on the turn of a dime.”