‘Bigger and better, or not?’

Last week, quick service restaurant Soul Origin opened its hundredth location in Australia, an impressive milestone considering the business is just seven years old.

Soul Origin founder and CEO Chris Mavris believes the franchise could still double in size if it succeeds in modifying restaurants for high street strips in regional towns. Currently, the chain is primarily located in metropolitan shopping centres.

“If we can do towns like Orange, Wagga Wagga, Bendigo and country towns around Australia, I don’t see why we can’t get to 200- plus,” he tells IRW.

Driving this rapid growth is Soul Origin’s fresh food offering. Its wholesome, made-on-the-day baked goods, sandwiches and salads have proved appealing to a breakfast and lunch crowd.

“What we’re offering is something the Australian palette enjoys and wants to eat and drink,” Mavris says. “We use the word fresh, not healthy, because healthy means different things to different people. We talk about food for the soul, and at 3pm, a brownie may be good for your soul.”

Neither entirely health food, nor entirely comfort food, Soul Origin’s menu straddles a crucial middle ground. But the defining characteristic is the homemade quality of the food that seems decidedly un-chain-like.

Open bowls of pumpkin couscous, beetroot and feta salad and other gourmet salads, prosciutto paninis and chicken sandwiches line glass-fronted displays. Small signs showing menu items and prices pepper the display area, rather than appearing on signage above the cash registers, contributing to the feeling of a neighbourhood café.

It should come as no surprise that this homemade quality resonates with consumers. The observation has been made before that restaurants are influenced by trends in the broader retail industry, and one of the biggest trends at the moment is around authenticity.

 

Published By – Heather McIlvaine

‘Bigger and better, or not?’