Reporter's Notebook
Tender Greens

Tender Greens builds infrastructure for growth

For anyone who has been to a Tender Greens, it probably came as no surprise when the Culver City, Calif.-based chain received a significant minority investment from Union Square Hospitality Group, or USHG, last year. 

It’s a concept that USHG CEO Danny Meyer said he wished he had thought of himself. Tender Greens offers healthful, chef-driven fare at an affordable price. It’s the type of food chefs want to eat.

And the chain has a unique perspective on building partnerships with farmers, and operating as a “conscious company,” one that looks to solve social, cultural or environmental problems.

The investment, which included equity investment firm Alliance Consumer Growth, set Tender Greens up for new growth outside California. But first, it has allowed the 22-unit fast-casual chain to build some infrastructure.

This week, Tender Greens announced the hire of Craig Meunier as vice president of operations, a newly created position.

​Meunier most recently headed operations at Yalla Mediterranean, the brand once known as Daphne’s California Greek that has been completely rebranded. Before that, Meunier worked for Fox Restaurant Concepts; Starr Restaurant Organization and Hillstone Restaurant Group.

Tender Greens' new vice president of operations Craig Meunier. Photo: Tender Greens

“We are thrilled to have Craig join our leadership team,” said Tender Greens president and co-founder David Dressler, in a statement. “He brings a broad base of operational experience, a love of great food, and a passion for people development that complements our company culture as we prepare for the next stage of our growth.”

In May, Tender Greens also hired Brian Berkhausen as vice president of real estate and development, another newly created position.

​Berkhausen is the former director of global store development at Starbucks Corp. and led the coffeehouse chain’s growth and portfolio management of about 1,300 units across the Western region.

Brian Berkhausen was recently appointed as vice president of real estate and development. Photo: Tender Greens

Dressler noted in a statement that Tender Greens eventually hopes to grow the brand outside the U.S. Berkhausen, he said, “brings his extensive experience achieving meaningful and intelligent growth to our company.”

Last November, of course, Tender Greens also promoted former director of finance Lina O’Connor to chief financial officer. She played a key role in negotiating the USHG investment. 

These are all signs of a company moving to a next stage of growth.

The challenge ahead for Tender Greens will be maintaining its authentic commitment to local, organic and sustainable ingredients as it pushes the accelerator on growth. For brands facing similar hurdles, Tender Greens is the one to watch.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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