Chef Special “Cacio e Perez” from The Sosta

With countless restaurant options to choose from, getting people in the door is more important than ever. Whether it is building a loyalty program, highlighting a social mission, or starting a video campaign, it is up to the brand to figure out what will best complement their model. Various restaurants are utilizing ‘Guest Chefs’ to create a limited time dish to increase their offerings and footprint. This adds a fresh element to the restaurant, without veering away from its mission, and can potentially bring in new customers that may be unfamiliar with the concept.

A popular fast-casual concept using the ‘Guest Chef’ method is Sweetgreen, the popular salad brand that focuses on healthy and local ingredients. Sweetgreen, who has an Instagram following of 150K, has built a loyal fan base across its 70+ (and growing) locations. For the past few years, the salad chain started partnering with prominent guest chefs to create a special, limited-time only dish. Chef Nancy Silverton is the latest celebrity chef to join forces with Sweetgreen, creating a “Nancy’s Chopped Salad”. This partnership allows for Silverton’s fans (and 80k+ Instagram followers) and those who want to experience an exclusive item, to potentially visit Sweetgreen and introduce a new audience to the growing chain.

Fast-casual concepts aren’t the only ones experimenting with guest chefs. The Sosta, a single-unit Italian restaurant created by two female entrepreneurs in New York City, welcomes a chef or influential model to create a special featured item each month. This month, The Sosta partnered with Olivia Perez, founder of the lifestyle media company Friend of a Friend, to create a specialty spaghetti dish made with activated charcoal. Joining forces with someone who has a large following in a different industry is a strategic move to reach a different demographic.

Building brand loyalty and awareness, as well as finding new ways to innovate, is crucial in the restaurant and service industries. The ‘Guest Chefs’ trend continues to grow across various concepts, making it hard to imagine that it will slow down any time soon. However, with the overabundance of options for consumers to choose from, it is imperative that brands look beyond their latest innovation and always remain ahead of the curve.