Dan Barash Online

Moe’s Southwest Grill’s Executive Chef Earns Top Honors From the United Fresh Produce Association
April 13, 2011, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Moe’s Southwest Grill, the fun, engaging and fast-casual restaurant, is proud to announce that Executive Chef Dan Barash will be honored by the United Fresh Produce Association in the Quick Service Restaurants category. Barash is recognized for his creative and influential use of fresh produce which is showcased in Moe’s menu and heralded for its fresh, all natural, healthy choices for everyone’s preferences — from meat lovers and vegetarians to those who prefer low-calorie or gluten-free options.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Chef Dan for winning this prestigious award,” said Paul Damico, president of Moe’s Southwest Grill. “Moe’s takes great pride in its food mission dedicated to serving the highest quality ingredients and freshest produce, and Chef Dan has been instrumental in leading this effort.”

The six winners from a variety of categories were selected from nearly 120 nominations submitted across North America. A panel of produce and foodservice industry leaders reviewed nominees’ incorporation of fresh produce into menus, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce-related community service and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.

Barash will receive the award at United Fresh 2011, the association’s annual convention and expo in New Orleans. He will also participate in a panel session, Lessons from the Front Line – Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners, which will take place and broadcast on UnitedFresh.TV on May 3.

For more information about Barash and Moe’s food mission, visit http://www.Moes.com.

About Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual concept featuring fresh southwest fare in a fun and engaging atmosphere with over 428 locations in 32 states, Canada and abroad. At Moe’s, each meal is prepared right before your eyes and is accompanied by 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.


Atlanta Chef Dan Barash of Moe’s Southwest Grill Among Chefs Earning Top Honors at United Fresh 2011
April 2, 2011, 2:26 pm
Filed under: nutrition | Tags: , ,

Winners of Fourth Annual Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Put Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Front and Center on Menus Every Day

WASHINGTON, DC, (April 1, 2011) – Chef Dan Barash, Executive Chef of Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill, is one of six chefs representing an array of culinary styles and backgrounds to be honored this May as part of the United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Sponsored by Pro*Act LLC, and now in its fourth year, the program honors chefs and their companies for their innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The United Fresh Produce Association will formally recognize the six winners at United Fresh 2011, the association’s annual convention and expo in New Orleans, May 2-5.

“For four years now, we at Pro*Act continue to be amazed at the creativity, dedication and insight shown by the honorees in this program,” said Pro*Act President Max Yeater. “We are so proud to be a sponsor of the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and we thank all of the nominees and all of the chefs who work so hard to help further the goal of increased consumption of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“Foodservice operators play such an important role in our industry, showcasing fresh produce in new and exciting ways every day. This group of winners stands out as this year’s leaders in featuring fresh fruits and vegetables on their menus,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “We appreciate their tremendous commitment to our industry and recognize Pro*Act’s generous support in honoring these winners and their positive impact on our nation’s dining habits.”

This year, the program was expanded to include a sixth category honoring excellence in the K-12 Foodservice category. The six winners were selected from nearly 120 nominations submitted by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America. A panel of produce and foodservice industry leaders reviewed each nominee’s demonstrated incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce related community service and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.

The six winners, along with an executive from their company, will attend United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans. All six winners will participate in panel session, Lessons from the Front Line – Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners, which will take place on Wednesday, May 3 at 11:30 a.m and broadcast on UnitedFresh.TV.

The 2011 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners are:

Business in Industry & Colleges
Chef Martin Breslin
Director of Culinary Operations
Harvard University Dining Services
Cambridge, Mass.

Casual & Family Dining Restaurants
Chef Regis Holden
Senior Director of Culinary Services
Eat’n Park Restaurants
Homestead, Pa.
Fine Dining RestaurantsChef Clifford Pleau
Senior Director of Culinary Services
Seasons 52
Costa Mesa, Calif.

Hotels & Healthcare
Chef Jacques Wilson
Executive Chef
El Camino Hospital
Mountain View, Calif.

K-12 School Foodservice
Jenilee McComb
Director, Childhood Nutrition Programs
Provo School District
Provo, Utah

Quick Service Restaurants
Chef Dan Barash
Executive Chef
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Atlanta, Ga.

Moe’s Makeover Focuses on Sustainability, Efficiency
March 28, 2011, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Atlanta-based fast casual Moe’s Southwest Grill recently unveiled a new prototype that it will roll out in new units this year.

The changes made for the new prototype, though, are subtler than those made at most brands that revamp their concept and focus mostly on sustainability, efficiency, and a cleaner store look.

Paul Damico, president of Moe’s, says the brand is not trying to dramatically change the core Moe’s branding.

“What we were trying to do with our new prototype is not change the engine, because our cook line and our sequence of service works just great for us,” Damico says. “What we were trying to do is get a little bit more of a ‘wow’ factor for when guests come into our restaurants. We wanted to brighten it up, we wanted to declutter it, and we wanted to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.”

Changes in the new prototype include energy-efficient LED and CFL lights, low-VOC-emission paints, and walls made from post-industrial recycled content. The company even included bigger holes on the garbage cans for easier trash disposal.

Some bigger changes Moe’s included in the new prototype are updated furniture, brighter colors on the walls, and an expanded salsa bar.

“That was kind of hidden within the design of the restaurant,” Damico says. “You didn’t notice it the minute you walked in the front door. So we wanted to punch up the size and the graphics around that salsa bar.”

The menuboard in the new prototype was also refreshed, and was tailored to suggestions made by customers who wanted faster speed of service and did not want to be “nickel and dimed,” Damico says.

“The menuboard in a fast-casual, or even fast food, restaurant is probably the single biggest thing that can move the needle positive or move the needle negative,” he says.

While Moe’s is known for the signature “Welcome to Moe’s” call-out from crewmembers every time a customer walks in the door, Damico says the company wanted to make the statement more prominent. The new prototype features it in giant block letters on the brightened up walls.

“When I walk into a restaurant, I look at the floor, I look at the ceiling, I look at the furniture,” he says. “When a guest walks in, really what they’re seeing are the images on the wall. Before, while the colors were slightly bright, it was all one color. What we’ve done with the new prototype now is really call out areas of the restaurant that are different and important.”

One location to feature the new prototype, an Atlanta store owned by franchisee Mark Monroe, has seen sales increases of more than 20 percent since revealing the new design elements.

Damico says all new units will include elements of the new prototype—Moe’s is planning for at least 50 new stores in 2011—and that they will also be made available to existing franchisees.

By Sam Oches


Going ‘Green’ Appeals to Restaurant Customers’ Tastes
March 24, 2011, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Paul Damico is the President of Moe’s Southwest Grill, a 426-unit restaurant chain based in Atlanta. Under Damico’s direction, Moe’s has migrated to a new eco-friendly prototype that has resulted in increased sales and lower maintenance costs. Damico tells BusinessNewsDaily how ‘going green’ has been good for business.

BusinessNewsDaily: You made some significant changes to both the appearance and menu at Moe’s, what prompted the change?

Pharmaceutical BrandingAward-winning Fiercely Protective Corporate and Product Identitieswww.GuardDogBD.comAds by Google Paul Damico: I believe strongly that the success of the brand rests on great people, great food and a great restaurant experience. When I joined the team in May 2008, I wanted to lead improvement in all three areas and the timing was perfect with our tenth anniversary on the horizon. First, we got the right team in place. Concurrently, we began working on improving the prototype to decrease clutter and maintenance, increase speed of service and brighten the look and feel of the restaurant. We also wanted to highlight some of the best parts of our dining experience like our salsa bar featuring five fresh, free salsas and our ‘Welcome to Moe’s’ greeting which is now written out boldly above our service line. Since we began rolling out the prototype, particularly in existing restaurants that have been renovated, we have seen an increase in sales and an increase in crew satisfaction.

We began working on enhancing the menu at about that same time. Our marketing department spent a year testing and perfecting a new menu board, while our Executive Chef began working on improving our ingredients. Today, we can say that we proudly serve all natural, cage and hormone free, skinless white breast meat chicken; 100 percent sirloin, grass-fed steak with no hormones added; slow cooked pulled pork that is hormone-free, steroid free and grain fed; and organic tofu. All this is part of Moe’s Food Mission which is to bring the highest quality ingredients to every guest, every day, everywhere.

In terms of the actual menu board, research indicated that our guests didn’t like being told “that’s going to be a little extra” as they moved down the line, so we decided to make our sour cream and veggies free with every meal. We also heard that kids love our menu and love participating in the ordering process, so we created a menu board just for kids – right at their eye level.

In addition to our ten-year mark prompting these changes, we also heard feedback from our guests urging us to move in this direction, especially as it relates to our food. When we surveyed our customers, they let us know they were interested in all-natural, healthier ingredients. We have also received guest feedback, Twitter mentions and Facebook suggestions that have led us to believe that our customers want low-cal, vegetarian, gluten-free and more sustainable ingredients.

As we enter into our second decade of business we have a new prototype, a new menu board, a Food Mission, a new creative platform (Feed the Moement); and as a result, a newly energized franchise community ready to take on the next ten years with increased passion and dedication.

BND: Describe to me the “new” eco-friendly customer you are hoping to attract?

P.D.: It seems that the sustainability effort is largely embraced by today’s youth. We think teens; tweens and even kids are not only interested in doing the right thing for the planet, but also urging their friends and families to do the same. Similarly, we have found a passionate audience comprised mostly of moms and young professionals who expect transparency from the restaurants about the quality of the ingredients that they serve. Since we launched our ‘Food Mission’ the response from this group, in particular, has been great. These women can feel positive about the food they eat at Moe’s, and the food they are feeding their children.

As a restaurant with a variety of vegetarian offerings, Moe’s is a proud supporter of the Meatless Monday campaign. We have noticed that our meatless items attract vegetarian and ‘flexitarian’ [people who eat a meat-free diet most of the time] fans alike who want to eat healthier while reducing their carbon footprint.

BND: What trends to you see in the green movement, not just for restaurant owners but for business owners in general?

P.D.: As a restaurant company, our focus has been mainly on the food, but energy efficiency is an area of opportunity as well. Our new prototype features CFL and LED lighting as a first step. We are also testing some different things with our HVAC, hood system and walk-in to be more energy efficient. A minimal upfront cost can not only save in energy consumption, but also money. Similarly, low-flow toilets and spray valves have a minimal cost impact and are more eco-friendly.

BND: What responsibility do restaurants owners have to their customers regarding where and how their food is processed?

P.D.: As a restaurant, it is our responsibility to not only know where our ingredients come from, but also ensure that proper safety and quality assurance procedures are maintained at every step of the process from farm to table.

For example, at Moe’s we have committed to all-natural, cage and hormone free, skinless white breast meat chicken. It takes a lot of work on our end to maintain that specification with our suppliers and the farmers that work with them at a price that works for our system, but it’s important to us as a brand and it’s important to our guests and any vendor that works with our company understands that.

BND: You successfully changed your restaurant to be more environmentally friendly. Do you think others will follow your lead?

P.D.: Absolutely. Sustainability is not a fad; it is here to stay. I think more and more chains are realizing that and as basic economics dictates – increased demand will cause increased supply until finally, greener business practices will become not only more accessible, but more affordable.

BND: Do you think customers purposely select restaurants that support their own values?

P.D.: Most definitely. In a competitive marketplace, when all other factors (environment, price, taste) are similar, customers will go with the brand they trust and a brand they know cares about doing the right thing.

Going ‘Green’ Appeals to Restaurant Customers’ Tastes
March 24, 2011, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Spice Up Your Week with Moe’s Meatless Monday
February 3, 2011, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Moe’s Southwest Grill is known across the country for their pop-culture inspired atmosphere and hearty, healthy menu. Walk into one of their 400 locations nationwide and you’ll be greeted by an enthusiastic staff, classic rock soundtrack and wide array of menu choices. Moe’s prides itself on having something for everyone: whether you’re gluten-free, veggie, weight-conscious or just looking for fantastic food, this burrito bar has you covered. Recently, Moe’s further cemented their commitment to healthy, flexible options by embracing Meatless Monday!

Moe’s Meatless Monday will only serve to highlight the eatery’s extensive plant-based offerings. Moe’s has six pre-selected meatless menu items, including organic tofu. From there you can build your order by adding any of their fresh toppings, like handmade guacamole and pico de gallo. All of Moe’s ingredients are animal fat, lard and MSG free and are never frozen or microwaved. Not only are they committed to freshness, Moe’s also offers whole grain and lower-calorie options: of their meatless entrees, three are under 400 calories.

Moe’s Southwest Grill understands that customers are looking for easy ways to incorporate nutritious Meatless Monday options into their busy routine. As they said in a recent press release:

“Be flexible about when and where you choose to be vegetarian or a meatatarian! Not only catering to those with special dietary needs, Moe’s also offers self-help in the form of a burrito for those simply looking to incorporate a flexible, yet tasty and healthy eating plan. Moe’s guests are guaranteed delicious and fresh options whether just dabbling in vegetarianism or on a gluten-free or low-cal diet.”

Add some spice to your week by opting for Moe’s this Meatless Monday. Check out their store locator to find a Moe’s Southwest Grill near you.

Check out the site at http://www.meatlessmonday.com/spice-up-your-week-with-moes-meatless-monday/

Moe’s New Healthy Menu Sends Guests on a Food Mission… Should They Choose to Accept It
January 24, 2011, 7:53 pm
Filed under: nutrition, Uncategorized

ATLANTA, GA–(Marketwire – January 24, 2011) – Moe’s Southwest Grill, the fun, engaging and fast-casual restaurant, has made its own New Year’s Resolution. Starting today, Moe’s redesigned menu boards will feature a new food mission wheel “steering” guests to select delicious and healthy choices. Showcasing even more healthy menu options than ever before, Moe’s makes it easy for the whole family to make smart and tasty ordering decisions.

We’ve ALWAYS known, but did you? Moe’s has always had the highest standards. Never having used microwaves, animal fat, lard or MSG, Moe’s offers guests nothing but the best, with over 20 fresh ingredients including hormone-free grilled chicken, beef and even organic tofu.

No gluten? No problem. Offering more than 20 gluten-free ingredients, Moe’s allows those on a gluten-free diet to indulge like never before. Delectable and customizable menu options range from burritos to rice bowls to salads. With the growing number of Americans affected by gluten allergies, Moe’s chicken, steak, tofu and pork are all prepared gluten-free and ready to be devoured at a “Moe-ment’s” notice!

Attention Veg-Heads! The days of eating just rice and lettuce when out with friends are now over. Look no further than Moe’s, where vegetarians are VIP. Not only are the shredded cheese and sour cream free of gelatin and animal rennet, but the grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms are prepared on a totally separate grill from the meat products. Organic grilled marinated tofu provides a tasty protein option, accompanied with any number of fresh produce and black beans or a side of freshly prepared pico de gallo.

Lightening up? Feel good and show-off your choices at Moe’s with an entire menu of calorie-conscious options showcasing drool-worthy meals less than 450 calories. Salads or burritos featuring tofu or chicken, crisp produce, fresh salsa and grilled veggies easily fit in with a healthy eating lifestyle. Moe’s online nutritional calculator at www.moes.com provides additional support for those who want to further slice and dice their menu options!

Flexitarians Unite! The newest diet option — be flexible about when and where you choose to be vegetarian or a meatatarian! Not only catering to those with special dietary needs, Moe’s also offers self-help in the form of a burrito for those simply looking to incorporate a flexible, yet tasty and healthy eating plan. Moe’s guests are guaranteed delicious and fresh options whether just dabbling in vegetarianism or on a gluten-free or low-cal diet.

Moe-tivated! Moe’s thinks the world of the planet and is mindful of environmental impact and nutritional content. Serving food that sustains resources with the best possible option is vital to Moe’s ideals and company practices. Whether Moe’s is encouraging franchisees to purchase produce locally, provided Moe’s safety and quality standards can be met, or serving cage- and hormone-free chicken and grain-fed pork, Moe’s tries to do the right thing by the animals and the earth — and its customers.