Snap Kitchen in spotlight at CohnReznick Restaurant Tech Summit in D.C.

Healthy, prepared-meals chain Snap Kichen embraces digital tools as it grows

Snap Kitchen, a healthy, prepared-meals chain, was in the spotlight at the Cohn Reznick Technology Summit in Washington, D.C., October 18, 2017, when its head of Technology, Jon Carter, spoke. Deservingly so, the chain has been featured by several major restaurant industry publications, including Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Business, in the past few years.

Having a differentiated concept and continued investment has further fueled growth. It received a new 2016 investment from L Catterton, which initially invested in the chain back in 2013, according to these reports. Snap Kitchen, a top Restaurant Business chain to watch and part of its “Future 50” lineup in 2016, provides ready-to-eat, prepared meals that are made from scratch and fit into a healthy, dietary-oriented lifestyle at 45 units in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Carter spoke about the popularity of the growing chain and the embrace of digital channels. While it has retail storefronts across its markets, it is in a concerted effort to expand strategically across the omnichannel sphere. The chain helps consumers address specific dietary needs in a convenient manner, preparing meals that are easy to get and fit the dietary framework of those consumers, whether they follow a vegan, paleo or other type of regimen.

2017 Restaurant Tech Summit CohnReznick: Snap Kitchen
Jon Carter, head of Technology for Snap Kitchen, discusses the chain’s business and digital journey: 2017 CohnReznick Restaurant Tech Summit

Now, it must continue to build out its ecommerce platform, and also complete its national expansion, which should take three to five years. A complete meal-planning solution is the next big digital project after the rollout of its mobile app.

Part of what is driving convenient dietary options, like that of Snap Kitchen, is that people want their time back, says Carter. Another reason is that people are paying more attention to what they eat and pursuing the healthy dining trend. In addition to a full ecommerce build-out, Snap Kitchen is taking a hard look at logistics and delivery. For now, the chain has used third-party delivery, including Uber Eats, but third party is only a temporary solution, he says.

During the QA, Carter responded to a question of how to grow with technology and make a case for tech investment, saying that a chain should identify its “friction” for technology and create solutions that are designed around the customer.

Additionally, when asked about his chain’s customer acquisition and retention, he said retention was very high and that acquisition was helped by Snap Kitchen’s retail footprint and grocery channel presence. In fact, its digital spend has been tempered, amounting to a modest $300K invested in 2017.

It appears that at Snap Kitchen, currently, acquisition is more of a focal point than retention because of the nature of its business.

As the QA session continued, Carter was bullish on growth and differentiation when asked about the possibility of an existing meal-kit company copying his business model. He said competition from a meal-kit delivery service is not a concern because of what Snap Kitchen has already built: a business and infrastructure to cook thousands of meals across thousands of SKUs, personalized for customers’ dietary needs and grown to scale to (soon) serve every city in the country.

Since 2016, CohnReznick, an accounting, assurance, tax and advisory firm, has been holding technology summits within its hospitality sector in the cities of D.C., Los Angeles and New York. The firm is in the process of planning its 2018 Los Angeles summit. Stay updated by navigating to its events web page

Read more about the 2017 Restaurant Tech Summit in our holiday digital issue.