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The quick-service restaurant was founded in 2018 by a former D1 athlete as a healthy option in Washington, D.C.

How this quick-service café is planning on being the healthiest option in town

Toastique is building a strong base with its young founder

Toastique is striving to be the healthiest fast food around, and its 29-year-old founder Brianna Keefe has a plan to do just that.

The quick-service restaurant was founded in 2018 by Keefe, a former D1 athlete, as a healthy option in Washington, D.C. She felt that out of the “healthier” options available at the time, none were truly healthy. So she opened her own restaurant.

The first restaurant was such a success that Keefe opened a second one just nine months later, then another one about nine months after that.

Now Toastique has nine locations in D.C., Utah, New Jersey, Colorado, and Florida, and has 62 signed franchises in new states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, and Texas.

After a tough 2020, Keefe persisted with franchising, knowing the concept had legs — especially after the health crisis of COVID-19.

“I knew after the pandemic, this is what people wanted,” Keefe said. “They wanted truly healthy, made-from-scratch ingredients because they're caring more about what they put in their body than before the pandemic. … But the pandemic really just expedited where that was going.”

The café offers toasts — its signature item — smoothies, and juices. It has a grab-and-go section as well as places to sit down and eat.

Toasts make up about 40-60% of all sales at the restaurant, depending on the location.

The restaurant doesn’t have a full kitchen; each location only has what it needs to make toasts, fresh juices and smoothies. All the ingredients are not only made from scratch, but they also have no added sweeteners or sugars.

But Keefe has a warning to franchisees: “Don't be fooled by the simple concept, because it isn’t simple,” she said. “We don't have any cooking equipment, but it still has the full prep of a restaurant even though you're not cooking.”

For Keefe, a life in restaurants was inevitable. She studied hospitality management and business in college and worked in restaurants throughout her life as both a server and a hostess.

It’s why she knows what she wants when it comes to staff.

Employees have to be able to engage customers while prepping all the items for their order as well as educate them on the benefits of cold-pressed juices. Keefe wants the best and she tries to get it.

This has led to the same staffing issues the rest of the industry is having, but Keefe has found that the best recruiting for her is word of mouth. Those who work at a Toastique often invite friends or family to apply for a job as well, which Keefe says makes for better employees.

“We have so many siblings and cousins that work for us and it does get easier when you have good employees that like their job,” she said.

Those employees have a chance for a career at Toastique through internal promotions. Keefe said there are many dishwashers who have become the ones who interact with customers placing orders.

“I think [career development] has been our biggest asset with our success,” she said.

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