We have the most curious managers in the food and restaurant industry. At Snowfox we used to be curious because as a young company, we worried about our grocery competition. We’d ask “What are they failing to do? Let’s do that!” We would shine in those practices and beat them. And our competitors were strong, so we had to learn fast.
Now we’re dreaming again and curious about stand-alone Asian cuisines that can delight guests while ensuring they associate Snowfox with fresh convenience and a high-end feel. So it was time for a trip!
“Chairman Kim has actually been thinking about dumplings for a while based on their sales in our grocery kiosks,” said JFE Vice President Brian Lee. So in keeping with our evolved philosophy of making one cuisine the star in a modest-sized restaurant setting, we’re considering a U.S. dumpling concept. Thus in April, Lee, along with President Stacy Kwon, manager Seungkyu Baek, and art director Shawn Kwon, visited China, Korea, and Japan to see how top dumpling and bao purveyors celebrated and sold the centuries-old cuisine.
Manager Baek provided some highlights for us. “We went to more than 20 restaurants in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. We saw a lot that we can apply to operations, merchandising, and the customer experience here.”
“For example,” Baek said, “food displays in Japan were superior to what we see in the U.S. Lights and display cases were simple and bright. Everything looked very fresh!”
Asked about any downsides to the trip, Vice President Lee added, “We ate too much… dumplings for breakfast, dumplings for lunch, dumplings for a snack, and dumplings for dinner!”
Our current restaurant concept is only a year old and, though doing well, is certainly taking a large share of our time and resources. So one might ask, ‘Why not simply add dumplings to the Snowfox Grab-n-Go Cafe menus?’
“There are so many restaurants in Asia that sell only dumplings,” Lee replied. “In America, they’re always a side item. But in Asian culture dumplings aren’t an appetizer. They’re used to celebrate significant events, like roasted turkey is in Western culture. Our domestic grocery dumpling sales and what we saw in Asia now tell us they can stand alone.”
“The best part,” Lee added, “is we don’t have to tell guests what dumplings are or why they’re great. It’s not a matter of whether or not they’ll sell but rather HOW to sell them. How can we make them taste incredible and create the environment, creating a special customer experience?”
So with fresh inspiration, Snowfox’s managers and executives are back in the dream factory, if you will, and we’re hoping to launch a non-Snowfox sister brand within the year. As always, we predict the guest will be the real winner!