Eats with Soul

Trends are cycling quickly in today’s restaurant landscape. Each new idea can become a flash in the pan, or it can become a part of a larger food movement. As an early stage investor in the space, we are often asked how we can possibly tell the difference between the two. No doubt there are many variables that play into success, but there is one attribute that no new brand can live without: soul.

When you walk into a restaurant, it is immediately apparent whether or not there is an authenticity to the experience. The soul lives in the bones of the store, the choices on the menu, and the culture that emanates through every employee. You may not consciously think about it, but you can feel it. If a brand feels too corporate, your radar will pick up earlier conversations, such as “There should be a Vietnamese version of Chipotle”. Or a consulting firm saying “adding more reclaimed driftwood will give the impression of healthy food”. Here’s an example of an authenticity we love:

Happiness, one slice at a time

When we met the team behind The Pie Hole, they told us a story of founder Becky Grasley entering pie baking contests at state fairs. She was not doing it to compete, but rather to get free entry to the fairs for her children, which she could not otherwise afford. It just turns out her pies were so good that she started winning. Years later, those recipes have become the staples of The Pie Hole which she started with her son and close family friend. That is soul.

The best brands tell a story that makes the customers feel like they are part of something special. They integrate the customers into an experience bigger than just a menu. At Kitchen Fund, we invest in big food ideas, helping entrepreneurs change the way we eat. If the soul of the brand is strong, we want to help create the purposeful growth to bring the brand to eaters everywhere.