Dan Barash Online

Moe’s Southwest Grill launching first national TV ads
March 8, 2013, 8:19 pm
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Moe’s Southwest Grill launching first national TV ads

The Atlanta-based fast-casual chain said the two commercials are targeted at 42 million American viewers and also are the first spots to use Coca-Cola Freestyle dispenser in a brand campaign.


Moe’s Southwest Grill president on menu strategy
February 19, 2013, 9:28 pm
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Moe’s Southwest Grill president on menu strategy

Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., president and founder of Healthy Dining, a nutrition-related marketing and consulting firm, interviews Paul Damico, president of Moe’s Southwest Grill, on the progress of the chain’s mission to improve the healthfulness of its food.

See Moe’s Southwest Grill’s Healthy Dining-approved menu choices on HealthyDiningFinder.com. This interview and others can be seen at Healthy Dining’s Restaurant Nutrition News & Insights.

Paul, I’m so impressed with Moe’s commitment to nutrition and wellness. I talked with your corporate chef, Dan Barash, about a year ago about your ‘Food Mission’ that had recently launched. Now that it has been a year or so, how has your commitment to nutrition and your ‘Food Mission’ evolved?

• Health experts share insights on healthy dining for kids
• Produce grows on restaurants
• More Healthy Dining content

Yes, Dan probably told you that about two and a half years ago, we started putting together a solid strategy for our menu and our ‘Food Mission.’ We served great food back then so we didn’t feel the need to reformulate or change our food, but we wanted to improve upon the quality of our ingredients. Since Moe’s always strives to give our customers the highest-quality service we wanted to begin incorporating the highest-quality ingredients, too, so that we were treating our food like we treat our customers.

That’s a great way to explain why you created your ‘Food Mission’ — so that it is in line with the way you treat your guests. Tell us more about that.

We are all about our food and all about our environment. We want to be known as over the top in health and taste with an acceptable price point.

Our guests are ‘sustainability champions,’ ‘conscientious parents,’ ‘calorie counters,’ ‘gluten evaders’ and vegetarians. And we want to meet and exceed their expectations for quality and taste.

Our menu touts ingredients that are free of rBGH, steroids, preservatives or MSG. It took us about a year to research and source all of those products, but it was worth the time. We also evaluated all of our marinades and sauces and cut the sodium quite a bit without compromising any of the taste. And all of this is happening 100 percent of the time at all of our locations.

That’s great. So how have your guests responded?

The numbers speak for themselves. Our traffic is up 4.5 percent, and that includes a lot of new guests. Our sales are up 9 percent. And we are opening up a new restaurant every five days.

Something we’re proud of is that we’re currently in 19 universities. College students love Moe’s ‘Food Mission.’ All that is due to the quality of our food.

We are now at 450 locations and growing.

Wow! So what’s next?

We have started using only cage-free, skinless, white meat chicken breast with no hormones added. Toward the end of this year we will be securing the whole breast of the chicken — cage free and hormone free — which is even more flavorful and juicy than what we are serving now. It has a really great appearance, too.

Recently we announced that our salsas are made from all-natural ingredients. We have always offered a variety of salsas, but now we also rotate in new freshly prepared seasonal salsas on a quarterly basis. Again, these will all be made with all-natural ingredients and will contain no preservatives. We see this as a massive differentiator for us.

We are also looking at organic juice boxes and all-natural cookies for kids, which parents will like too.

Contact Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., at anita@healthydiningfinder.com.

Moe’s Southwest Grill Facebook Recipe Contest Raises the Seasonal Salsa Bar to New Heights
June 1, 2012, 6:21 pm
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ATLANTA, GA, May 29, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Moe’s Southwest Grill, the fun and engaging fast-casual restaurant, is challenging its Facebook fans to raise the bar this summer — the salsa bar — with its first “Raise the Salsa Bar Contest.” Fans can heat things up by entering their original salsa recipe for a chance for it to be featured in more than 450 Moe’s restaurants nationwide and take home a $1,000 cash prize.

Why let the queso have all the fun? From now through June 29, 2012, fans can visit Moe’s Facebook page to submit their original salsa recipe in this fun and flavorful online contest. Whether you prefer mild and sweet salsas that pull in citrus undertones, or if you like to set off the fire alarms with habanero and jalapeno peppers, the bar is sky-high to what you can create.

Moe’s executive chef and judging panel will then select ten semifinalists to enter into the next round of the recipe contest competition — the popular vote. Semifinalists are selected based on ingredient selection, originality, and ease of preparation.

“We are really proud of our fresh, seasonal and free salsa bar and wanted to let our fantastic Moe’s community have a hand in creating the next delicious addition,” said Dan Barash, Executive Chef, Moe’s Southwest Grill. “Our Moe’s fans really define who we are and we can’t wait to experience this fun competition with them.”

The final three contestants selected by popular vote will then be prepared, taste tested and judged by Moe’s executives to determine who raised the salsa bar to new heights, crowning the victor of the first “Raise the Salsa Bar Contest.” The winning recipe will be featured as a limited time offer in 450 Moe’s restaurants nationwide, and receive a cash prize of $1,000.

The Moe’s Southwest Grill salsa bar rotates salsas seasonally, capturing the unique flavors of each period, providing mouth-watering salsas made with fresh, natural ingredients. In 2011, Moe’s launched a new Food Mission to bring the highest quality ingredients to every guest, every day, everywhere. This means focusing on the best possible options for guests including vegetarian and low-calorie ingredients, to a variety of ingredients without rBGH, steroids, added preservatives, or MSG, and of cou

rse, always prepared fresh with no microwaves.

For more information, please visit social.moes.com/salsabar. This contest is open to legal residents of the U.S., aged 18 and older. Limit one entry per person, so make it a good one!


Moe’s Southwest Grill Puts Its Own Spin on Cinco de Mayo
April 25, 2012, 2:31 pm
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ATLANTA, GA, Apr 25, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Moe’s Southwest Grill, the fast-casual restaurant franchise best known for its fresh, create-to-order burritos and signature “Welcome to Moe’s” greeting, is celebrating Cinco de Mayo, or as the folks at Moe’s would say, Cinco de Moe’s, in true Moe’s style: fun, laid-back and family-friendly.

While each location is hosting its own unique celebration including a variety of different specials and discounts, every participating location nationwide is offering the first 100 guests in line at 11 a.m. on May 5 a free limited edition 2012 Cinco de Moe’s t-shirt.

“This Cinco de Mayo marks our seventh annual Cinco de Moe’s celebration making it easily the longest running promotion in the brand’s history,” says Paul Macaluso, vice present of marketing for Moe’s Southwest Grill. “We’ve done t-shirt giveaways in the past, but never at a national scale. We can’t wait to see photos of guests in their shirts flood Facebook and Twitter.”

Fans of Moe’s Southwest Grill are encouraged to share Cinco de Mayo photos and feedback via Twitter using the hashtag #cincodemoes.

Moe’s Southwest Grill uses Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to celebrate originality, or the freedom to choose from more than 20 fresh, free ingredients and a variety of protein options including all-natural chicken, 100 percent sirloin grass-fed steak, grain-fed pulled pork and organic tofu, every day. And as always, every meal is served with free chips and salsa.

To learn what Cinco de Mayo specials may be offered at your neighborhood Moe’s, visit http://www.moes.com to find and call your local Moe’s.

About Moe’s Southwest Grill Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual restaurant franchise featuring fresh southwest fare in a fun and engaging atmosphere with over 440 locations in 33 states. At Moe’s, each meal is prepared right before your eyes and is served with free chips and salsa, including the Homewrecker burrito, the Billy Barou nachos, and the Close Talker salad. Founded in 2000, Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill was ranked #1 in category in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 in 2010 and is a Gold Award winner of the 2008 Consumer’s Choice in Chains Awards. For more information, visit http://www.moes.com .Image

Restaurant Nutrition by Healthy Dining with Chef Dan Barash
June 24, 2011, 6:29 pm
Filed under: nutrition

Anita Jones-Mueller: Congratulations, Dan. I read that you were honored by the United Fresh Produce Association for your creative and influential use of fresh produce at Moe’s Southwest Grill. That is really exciting!

Dan Barash: Yes, we were thrilled to receive the award. We take great pride at Moe’s in our food and high quality ingredients. We offer a lot of fresh produce, and that is an important component in our food mission.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Tell us more about your food mission.

Dan Barash: Moe’s Food Mission can be seen in action every day, in every one of our 430 locations. Our food mission is all about flavor and nutrition with fresh, quality ingredients as the cornerstone. Healthier for you food has always been the focus of our brand, and we see this mission as a living and breathing project that evolves based on customer expectations.

Anita Jones-Mueller: That is a great way to look at it. I like your food mission wheel. Tell us more about Moe’s cornerstone ingredients.

Dan Barash: We are always enhancing our ingredients to meet customer demand. Our food wheel describes our mission. Our steak is 100% grass-fed with no hormones added, we use organic tofu and all-white chicken breast. Our pork is grain-fed and hormone and steroid free. Our sour cream is all-natural with no rBGH hormones, it is lower in fat, better quality and, overall, rich and flavorful. In 2010, we also added the whole-grain tortilla option to the menu in both the 10” and 12” size. Our whole-grain tortilla options now account for 30% of sales, and that number continues to grow.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Those are definitely the high-quality ingredients that many consumers are now looking for. I can see why you have such a loyal following. I know you have some really great Healthy Dining-approved choices featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com. What other steps does Moe’s take to provide healthier choices?

Dan Barash: We have a loyal vegetarian following, thanks to our variety of vegetarian options and the fact that we have a separate grill dedicated to the vegetarian options. All of our food is free of trans fats and MSG, and we never use a microwave. We also offer over 20 fresh gluten-free ingredients for those who are gluten sensitive.

Anita Jones-Mueller: How about sodium? Our dietitians told me that you made some impressive reductions in your sodium levels.

Dan Barash: Yes, we’re also very proud of the fact that we’ve reduced sodium our menu board by 50% over the last two and a half years, something that more and more Americans are tracking in their diet. We did this by adjusting recipes, replacing salts with natural enhancers, using low-sodium sea salt and simply decreasing salt.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Wow! That is impressive. How about calories and menu labeling?

Dan Barash: We know how important nutrition is to our guests just by looking at our website analytics. The third highest clicked page on our website is our nutrition page, after the home page and the menu page. You can’t argue with that. Eight years ago, we launched an easy-to-use nutrition calculator on our website, long before the availability of nutrition information was such a hot topic. We are preparing to post our calories nationwide in the near future. We offer a low-calorie menu with less cheese and no sour cream options. We are also looking at ways that we can reduce calories in some or all of our items. But we won’t make any changes that compromise the taste that our customers love.

Anita Jones-Mueller: I know that you have a four and a half year old child, so you know how important it is to families to have a place they love to eat, whether on the run or simply enjoying a meal out. How does Moe’s Southwest Grill ensure that it’s a favorite among families?

Dan Barash: We are very family-oriented. We serve the food that makes the whole family happy. We offer a variety of healthful options on our kids’ menu. And, to add a little more fun, because fun is part of our company’s DNA, our kids’ meals are served on Frisbees to promote a fun way to exercise.

Anita Jones-Mueller: That’s a very innovative way to promote exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle! It sounds like Moe’s Southwest Grill is deeply committed to offering the flavorful and nutritious foods that guests today are looking for. Thanks, Dan!

Moe’s Southwest Grill Awarded Prestigious LEED® Silver Green Building Certification
June 14, 2011, 9:20 pm
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Moe’s Southwest Grill Awarded Prestigious LEED® Silver Green Building Certification – Fast casual burrito concept in Williston, VT honored for sustainable construction and design –
ATLANTA, GA (June 13, 2011) – Moe’s Southwest Grill announced today that the location in Williston, VT has been awarded LEED Silver certification making it the first restaurant in the chain and in the state of Vermont to earn this high honor.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).
“The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most-important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health,” says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The work of innovative building projects such as Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fundamental driving force in the green building movement.”
By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
Local Franchise Partners Sueayn and Philip Wood set out to build a restaurant and achieve LEED certification two and a half years ago.
Some of the green design and construction features that positively impacted the project itself and the broader community include LED lighting, energy efficient cooking equipment, and a technologically advanced air control system that they anticipate will reduce energy consumption by 22 percent.
In compliance with LEED standards, the building materials were locally sourced and the laminates, paint and adhesives are all low-emission to help enhance the air quality of the restaurant.
In addition, this new location features low flow sink aerators, low flow toilets and waterless urinals.
Finally, a unique regional feature is the Freeaire management system for the walk-in cooler that overrides the condensers and evaporators once the outside air reaches a temperature that is equal to or cooler than the desired walk-in temperature.
“It has been an amazing experience building a green restaurant from the ground up,” says Sueayn Wood. “We’re proud to offer our guests a well-rounded eco-friendly dining experience, from the building design to our sustainable ingredients like grass-fed steak, grain-fed pork and organic tofu.”

Moe’s makes a move into retail
June 3, 2011, 5:18 pm
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June 2, 2011 | By Alan Snel

Moe’s Southwest Grill has signed a deal to sell a line of branded products at BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, joining a growing list of restaurant chains that have taken their brands to supermarket shelves.

Moe’s, a 420-unit fast-casual chain, said its agreement with BJ’s is the first time it has gotten involved in licensing and selling its products in retail locations. The deal includes 17 products, including dips, appetizers, pre-sliced vegetables, soups, salsas and salad dressings.

Moe’s is entering the retail world in hopes of increasing its brand awareness, said Paul Damico, the Atlanta-based chain’s president.

“This is a really exciting extension of the Moe’s brand and we anticipate it will propel our brand awareness in the future,” Damico said in a statement. “We’re certain that the collaboration with BJ’s Wholesale Club and our licensing partners will lend our customers the same great tastes they’ve come to expect in our restaurants.”

Moe’s is not alone in extending its brand to grocery stores in hopes of snagging more customers. While brands like T.G.I. Friday’s and California Pizza Kitchen have long had a presence in supermarkets, a growing number of other chains have made the move into retail in recent years, including P.F. Chang’s, Jamba Juice and, more recently, IHOP.

Moe’s sister brand, Cinnabon, also has a line of branded retail products, including cereal and snack bars. Both chains are divisions of Atlanta-based Focus Brands, whose portfolio also includes Carvel, Schlotzsky’s and Auntie Anne’s.

Moe’s retail products are priced at $10 or less and are available at all 190 of BJ’s locations.

“For those who are already fans of Moe’s, the flavor profiles and packaging that are consistent with the brand that consumers love will be a reminder for guests to stop by Moe’s for the full restaurant experience,” Cara Becker, Moe’s vice president of brand marketing. “For the BJ’s Wholesale consumer who has never dined at Moe’s, we hope they will try our products, love them and be interested in dining with us.”

BJ’s, based in Westborough, Mass., operates 190 retail sites and 106 gas stations in 15 eastern states.

Patrick Roach, a spokesman for Moe’s, cited a Packaged Facts study that said 64 percent of consumers reported purchasing ready-to-eat or heat-and-eat food from a grocery store within the last month. The study predicted that sales of supermarket-prepared foods will grow to $14 billion by 2011.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/moe’s-makes-move-retail?ad=fb-news&utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=dbarash@focusbrands.com&utm_content=NRN-News-NRNam-06-03-11&utm_campaign=Traffic%20up,%20checks%20down%20at%20restaurants#ixzz1OEae2fcy