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What’s keeping the founder of Arizona fast casual restaurant chain Wildflower up at night?

Louis Basile has been in fast casual longer than just about anybody else — and has seen more change come and go than anyone else.


Back in 1995, fast casual was more of a novelty than an industry. The term itself — “fast casual” — was barely known outside of industry insiders.

One of those industry insiders was Louis Basile. Basile opened Wildflower Bread Company in 1995 in Scottsdale, Ariz., after spending 13 years as a vice president with Au Bon Pain. He’s since grown Wildflower — “Bread Company” was dropped in a rebrand a few years back — to 16 locations, all in Arizona, and has witnessed three decades’ worth of innovation come and go for the fast-casual category.

Basile recently sat down with Nation’s Restaurant News’ editor-in-chief at the Prosper Forum in Amelia Island, Fla., for the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to take stock of how far the fast-casual industry has come — and to offer a glimpse at which industry issues still weigh on his mind.

In this conversation you’ll learn more about why:

  • Even small innovations can grow into game-changing revolutions
  • Fast casual is like fine dining but giving the guest their time back
  • Fast casual is a cross section of American consumers who still expect hospitality
  • Restaurant operators should be more worried about the future of supply
  • Everyday affordability is the first thing you should worry about when growing your brand
  • Your building costs have to be in line with your value proposition
  • By teaching your people to communicate and receive feedback, you can unlock their potential

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].

TAGS: Fast Casual
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