5 ways emerging local restaurants can scale while navigating crises

Bettina Stern, cofounder of trendy D.C.-based fast casual Chaia Tacos, shares how the buzz-worthy concept has survived the pandemic and capitalized on opportunities


Chaia Tacos captured lightning in a bottle when it first launched in 2012. Cofounders Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon originally opened their plant-based taco concept in a farmer’s market in Washington, D.C., but the rising popularity of plant-based eating and fast-casual dining quickly made it a local darling in the nation’s capital.

Chaia has since expanded to three brick-and-mortar locations. But as with many other emerging and independent concepts, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented one challenge after another as Stern and Simon seek to scale the brand.

In this episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches, Stern joins to talk about how she and Simon have pressed forward with Chaia’s growth and brand evolution in the midst of the pandemic, and how their resilience has helped them evolve their blueprint for where Chaia goes next.  

In this conversation, you’ll find out why: 

  • It pays to catch a wave.
  • The power to change minds and win customers starts with delicious food.
  • Emerging brands in cities have unique opportunity big brands don’t have.
  • The commissary kitchen model provides a lot of flexibility for growth.
  • Local restaurant communities should be collaborative in this difficult season.

Contact Sam Oches at sam.oches@informa.com

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