Hospitality Technology: What is a lifestyle grill?
Eric Spitz: KnowFat! is a 2-in-1 restaurant-retail concept that combines a fast-casual restaurant focusing on "better for you" food with a retail center that allows guests to buy products that support their healthy lifestyle. Our food offerings aim to dispel the notion that you must radically change your eating habits to eat better. We serve burgers, fries, steak tips, wraps, salads, smoothies and a variety of other sides that no other quick-serve restaurant carries, like brown rice, Mediterranean vegetables, black beans, mashed sweet potatoes, protein pilaf, and broccoli. The primary retail categories are nutrition bars, energy drinks, sports nutrition (protein, glutamine, etc.), vitamins, and healthy snacks.
HT: What was the inspiration behind Knowfat!?
ES: KnowFat! was founded in 1997 as Low Fat Know Fat by three bodybuilders who morphed their sports nutrition store into a 2-in-1 by launching the healthy restaurant. They theorized that healthy food restaurants had failed to grow in the past because they were too healthy and only catered to a small segment of the market. Their restaurant concept was very much mainstream and became a cult in the Boston area. In 2004 the three founders of KnowFat Franchise Company, including George Naddaff the founder of Boston Chicken, approached the original founders with a proposal to build a national chain from their inspiration, and KnowFat! was born.
HT: What are your growth plans?
ES: We believe that most Americans want to eat healthier when they are out of the home, but they do not have enough convenient, reasonably priced ways to do so. We are aiming to create a national franchise chain out of KnowFat!, and we expect to award over 600 franchises by 2009.
What kind of guests does Knowfat! attract? KnowFat!'s guests reflect the mainstream consumer audience. They skew slightly younger, but the aging boomer is a frequent customer. The primary characteristic of a KnowFat! guest is that he/she cares about eating well. Having said that, we understand that the taste of the food is the most important quality of any restaurant, and the food at KnowFat! rivals that of any quick-serve establishment.
HT: What are your top technology priorities?
ES: Initially our top technological priority was to find a single system that could accommodate our needs on both the restaurant and the retail side. This was no small challenge, and we have now come up to speed on an xpient solution that allows us to manage and run both businesses effectively.
We entered the business with the belief that a restaurant system developed in the 21st Century must use technology as a competitive advantage.
We have now, together with xpient, created a state-of-the-art restaurant-retail POS system that will be the lifeblood of our management of this business. In addition to utilizing our POS system to report and analyze data on both sides of our business, we have also launched a sophisticated customer loyalty program that we call the "In the Know" program. This vehicle, which provides consumers with 3% cash back on all purchases in the form of KnowFat! bucks to be spent in our retail store, will be the cornerstone of our system-wide marketing program with the franchisees. It not only allows for a robust communication tool between the operator and the guest, but it also provides business intelligence that traditional POS systems can only guess at.
Eric Spitz in CEO of KnowFat! Restaurants