Natural, Organic Quick-service Chain Opens 2nd Corporate Location At Amex Hq

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

O'Naturals teams up with Compass in the Big Apple

Natural and organic quick-service restaurant chain O'Naturals said Tuesday its second corporate franchise opened this week at the headquarters of American Express in Manhattan.

The Portland, Maine, company announced in June it was partnering with Compass Group, the world's largest foodservice company, to make franchised O'Naturals kiosks and restaurants available to the corporations, hospitals, colleges, universities and other contracted locations managed by Compass.

The first corporate O'Naturals franchise opened in April at the Stratham, N.H. headquarters of outdoor gear supplier Timberland. Eurest, a division of Compass Group, manages that unit.

"The customers at Timberland love the great taste of the O'Naturals menu items and their product line is a good fit for many of our clients," said Will Chizmar, head of marketing for Compass Group's Business and Industry Dining Services.

The company said in its monthly newsletter that "several more" corporate locations are "in the works." O'Naturals operates three company-owned restaurant units in Portland and Falmouth, Maine, and Acton, Mass., and two franchise locations in Wichita, Kan., which opened last fall, and Orlando, Fla. The newest franchisee has plans for two restaurants in Asheville, N.C., and two restaurants in Greenville, S.C.

"This is a huge opportunity to expand our concept and roll out O'Naturals to people across the country," said O'Naturals Chairman and Co-founder Gary Hirshberg, who is also the chief executive at organic yogurt giant Stonyfield Farm. "Our timing could not be better as people are demanding organic and natural offerings, even when on the run." Charlotte, N.C.-based Compass Group, The Americas posted over $8.4 billion in annual revenues. Its parent company, UK-based Compass Group PLC was ranked the 12th largest employer by Fortune magazine in 2006. It has worldwide revenues of $19.5 billion.

"Compass Group is responding to demands from their clients for more high quality natural and organic options," said Jay Friedlander, chief operating officer of O'Naturals. "Their clients want to eat food made from the same premium ingredients they are eating at home." Some of Compass Group's operating companies include Bon App├ętit Management Company, providing foodservice for higher education and corporate dining; Restaurant Associates Managed Services, corporate dining and cultural venues; Canteen Vending Services; Chartwells, serving the K-12 and higher education markets; Levy Restaurants, a market leader in sports and entertainment foodservice; Morrison Management Specialists, serving the healthcare industry and senior dining; Crothall Services Group, facilities management; and ESS Support Services, remote/off-shore and defense catering.

Its menu includes flatbread sandwiches and pizzas, soups, tossed salads, Asian noodles, kids' meals, fresh baked goods and, where permitted, micro-brewed beer and wine. Ingredients are natural, organic, local or wild.

After announcing franchising opportunities in 2006, company officials at O'Naturals fielded well over 1,500 inquiries from all over the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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