Honeygrow, a 22-unit fast-casual chain based in Philadelphia, has launched a sister concept intended for densely trafficked areas targeting the lunchtime business crowd.
The company has opened two Minigrow locations, both in New York City, the first on Oct. 30 and the second on Dec. 13. A third is slated to open on in that city Dec. 20.
Both specialize in customizable stir-fried noodles and organic greens, but Minigrow locations are smaller than Honeygrow — around, 1,800 square feet instead of 2,500 to 3,000 square feet — and with fewer choices: 89 items instead of 36.
But Minigrow is not just a smaller Honeygrow.
“We had all these great menu ideas, but I didn’t want to rock the boat with Honeygrow, because it’s a model that works,” CEO Justin Rosenberg said.
So instead of offering egg white noodles and whole wheat noodles, as Honeygrow does, Minigrow has three-wheat noodles, spinach noodle and spiralized zucchini “noodles.” The three-wheat noodles are made from a blend of wheat flour from New Zealand, Western Canada and Central Canada, each with a different percentage of ash, protein and moisture.
Instead of Honeygrow’s protein offerings of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and tofu, Minigrow offers dashi poached salmon, crab, slow-roasted pork shoulder and chicken thigh as well as tofu.
Minigrow also doesn’t have Honeygrow’s signature Honeybar, a choice of up to three fruits, honey (varieties include wildflower, buckwheat and clover) or maple syrup, and toppings such as coconut shavings, dark chocolate chips, granola, yogurt and whipped cream. But it does have a new signature item called the Chicken Jawn.
“It’s a Philly thing,” Rosenberg said — and it literally is, as “jawn” is Philadelphia slang for “thing.” Only available in restaurants, the $13 dish is three-wheat noodles, roasted chicken, sweet & sour onions, black truffle, miso corn, chives and Parmesan.
“It’s been kind of an unexpected hit,” Rosenberg said.
Perhaps more importantly, the service style is different.
Rosenberg compared Honeygrow to Shake Shack or Starbucks, where customers order and then wait while those orders are prepared. Minigrow is more “assembly line” style, with food being assembled in front of customers, allowing for faster throughput during lunch. The base price of dishes is $8.95. Proteins cost extra, ranging from $2.25 for tofu to $5.50 for salmon.
The new concept is intended to serve mostly lunch in dense urban areas, whereas Honeygrow does about half of its business at lunch and half at dinner.
Rosenberg said the company planned to launch a smart phone app for both concepts with a unified loyalty program, probably around summertime of next year.
Honeygrow, a tech-forward concept with four ordering kiosks in each location, already has an app with online ordering and payment capabilities.
The next Minigrow location would likely be in a high-traffic location in Chicago, which already has two Honeygrow locations.
There are also Honeygrow locations in Philadelphia, Boston, the Washington, D.C., area, Delaware, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Brooklyn, N.Y.
Honeygrow was named a Hot Concept by Nation’s Restaurant News in 2016.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary