Louisville, Kentucky-based Biscuit Belly took the top honor during the Fast Casual Executive Summit ‘Perfect Pitch’ competition, beating out three other finalists. The contest is all about helping innovative brands and concepts get off the ground.
For the second consecutive year, the winner of the Fast Casual Perfect Pitch competition, a concept contest held during the annual Fast Casual Executive Summit, is a Kentucky-based brand.
And while the 16-month-old fast casual serves up chicken, just like last year’s winner, Royals Hot Chicken, at Biscuit Belly it’s truly all about the biscuit.
Biscuit Belly, launched in June of 2019, opened its first Kentucky store in NuLu and quickly expanded with two more Kentucky locations, in Colonia Gardens and St. Matthews, within its first year. Now it’s aiming to add two more Kentucky stores and its first Indiana location.
It’s also on the hunt for franchisees after launching a franchise program in mid-October.
Founder and CEO Chad Coulter, in making his brand pitch to judges/advisors during the competition (which brought a $3,500 award), said his concept came from his love of biscuits while growing up in Hull, Georgia.
“My memorable experiences with biscuits included local gas stations that had short order cooks making breakfast and a biscuit restaurant called Biscuit Express in Hull,” he told Fast Casual in an email interview after winning the contest during the virtual summit held Oct. 20-22.
Biscuit Belly beat out three other finalists, Cluster Truck, Hot Mamma’s Kitchen and Memphis Seoul, all which made their pitches to a three-member advisory board. The winner was determined by board and attendee voting.
Serving as judges were Jim Balis, managing director, strategic operations group at CapitalSpring, Jason Moles, director of marketing at Henny Penny, and Ryan Rogers, founder and president at Eternal Optimist Hospitality. Henny Penny sponsored the contest session.
Perfect Pitch is always one of the most well-attended sessions at the Networld Media Group conference, which is now in its 15th year. The contest launched in 2015 and Miami-based concept Pincho took the winning honor. In 2016, California-based Rockfire Grill landed in first, and the 2017 winner was Street Shak Caribbean Kitchen, based in Toronto. GoPoke, based in Seattle, took the win in 2018.
Fast Casual Editor Cherryh Cansler describes Perfect Pitch “as a friendlier version of ‘Shark Tank,’ for entrepreneurs looking for a leg up with growing their brands. Over the years, we’ve seen several really great concepts and are honored to provide a vehicle to help them succeed,” she said prior to the contest.
The contest has three primary guidelines: brands must have at least one store open but no more than 10, must be no less than six months old and no more than five years old and be willing to share revenue and average sales data in their pitches to judges.
The magic ingredients of Biscuit Belly
Coulter described Biscuit Belly as a chef-driven gourmet brand in a Belly fast casual environment, and noted that the brand’s chef spent months perfecting the biscuit.
“We spent several months playing with different flour combinations and finally found a high end flour that provided enough structure to stand up to the ingredients we put between the biscuits, while also having the fluffy texture we wanted,” he told Fast Casual.
Hospitality, he stressed to the judges, is as critical as the biscuit’s ingredients.
“We strive to provide as much full service as we can,” he said, adding that aspect includes everything from clearing tables to serving drinks.
The brand has created a certification process which all staff members must complete. All team members are trained to work in every role, from working the register to making drinks and running food.
In addition to the secret biscuit recipe and big focus on hospitality, Coulter said success is tied directly to hiring the right team members.
“The most important part is finding people that are aligned with the vision and culture that you have established,” he told Fast Casual.
About Networld Media Group
Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the tech, banking, retail and food service industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, FoodTruckOperator.com, QSRweb.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com, VendingTimes.com and BiblicalLeadership.com. Annual events include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, the Bank Customer Experience Summit (BCX), and the Interactive Customer Experience Summit (ICX).