Foodworks Helps Feed Office Workers
The Foodworks station inside Thrivent’s cafe hosts rotating restaurant concepts, such as Boca Chica out of St. Paul.
“Marketing, plus a revenue generator.” That’s how Jason Adamidis describes Foodworks, a new program from Chicago-based Compass Group that recently launched in Minneapolis to partner with local restaurants and place them in prime locations in office buildings, retail complexes and other high-visibility sites.
Adamidis, the second-generation president of Dino’s Mediterranean Fresh, already had a relationship with Compass, which manages foodservice operations at corporate cafes, offices and in other large-scale dining locations, with Dino’s rotating weekly at United Healthcare’s headquarters in Minnetonka. The Foodworks program gives his restaurant brand access to more offices—and the workers in them—to ultimately increase exposure and grow sales.
“It’s a true win-win,” says Adamidis. “The revenue is important, we’re always looking for opportunities outside of our restaurant. And Compass, and now with Foodworks, has such a big reach with all these corporate centers.”
Downtown Minneapolis’ Thrivent Financial building is the first to host Foodworks’ local restaurant partners, with Dino’s among the handful of independent concepts to begin rotating at a station inside Thrivent’s skyway-level café.
“We educate the consumer on where we’re located and try to drive them back to our restaurants that way,” Adamidis continues, explaining the long-term customer relationship that can follow that initial interaction. “It’s great for us to first get the food in people’s mouths versus spending money on marketing without people being able to try the food.”
Foodworks, through Compass Group and its Eurest foodservice arm, is operating in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Philadelphia and Phoenix, and its list of Minneapolis properties has grown to a dozen. Compass also operates the Elevate Food Hall on the fourth floor of the 100 Washington Square building.
Jim Caldwell, Foodworks’ VP of operations, says the program gives its corporate clients access to a more diverse food selection while serving to help restaurants extend their reach.
“We seek first for what’s trending out there in the food scene in that market,” says Caldwell, noting Foodworks has “scouts” in each area always on the lookout for interesting concepts. “And for the restaurants, we have a captured audience in most cases five days a week.”
The restaurants don’t pay rent, but profits are shared, with the restaurant keeping 80 percent and 20 percent going to Foodworks. Each restaurant is responsible for staffing the Foodworks station and owners can determine how long and how often they want their concept to pop up.
That flexibility appealed to Amol Dixit, CEO of Hot Indian Foods, which has restaurants in Midtown Global Market and Mall of America, along with a new skyway store and seasonal spot at Target Field. Foodworks reached out to him, he says, and Hot Indian’s first three-day stint at Thrivent was “a decent supplemental location and a good way to get the brand out there.”
“Especially in the winter when we don’t have our food truck,” he continues. “And we could tell people about our full Hot Indian location in the skyway.”
Other restaurants that will rotate at Thrivent’s café and other Foodworks stations include Tiger Sushi, Boca Chica, Cave Café, Sonora Grill, Stray Dog and One, Two, Three Sushi.
Foodworks aims to work with independent restaurants and those owned by women and minorities, notes Caldwell, and as it makes more connections in the Twin Cities it hopes to also launch Apron Exchange, an incubator program to help food startups promote and sell their products. Working with area culinary schools to develop a student-run guest restaurant in a Foodworks station, with proceeds going back to the school, is another planned initiative.