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Grégoire Chef and Founder Grégoire Jacquet Explains How Fine Fast-Casual Food Will Revolutionize Franchising

Jacquet told 1851 Franchise all about starting the Bay Area’s first fine fast-casual eatery, where gourmet meals are prepared for takeout and delivery. He spoke about his excitement about venturing into franchising and how he thinks Grégoire is going to revolutionize the industry.

By Katie Porter1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 05/11/22

Grégoire, the Northern California eatery that focuses primarily on gourmet to-go, is on the cusp of becoming a franchise chain. Founder and fine dining chef Grégoire Jacquet, who worked in the kitchens of esteemed restaurants across the globe, meshed the magnificent menus of that world with the ease and low pressure of a take-out spot.  

After 20 years of operating his Berkeley location, Jacquet is franchising Grégoire to expand the brand’s presence in the Bay Area. 1851 Franchise caught up with him to learn about this exciting point in time for the company.

1851 Franchise: Tell us about the history/founding of the brand. What inspired you to start Grégoire? 

Grégoire Jacquet: I lived in a small city in France where we grew all of our food and prepared meat from our homestead. We never went out to eat and always cooked our own meals, but my mom was a great cook and I enjoyed learning from her. I was so mesmerized watching her make ham, sausages, preserved vegetables, and crafting jams from our garden and local farms. That sparked my desire to cook. I decided at age fourteen I wanted to be a chef, so I went to cooking school in Croan, France. Afterward, I worked in fine dining throughout France, then at the Ritz Carlton in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

In 2002, I decided I wanted to open my own restaurant. But after all of my years working in fine dining, I did not want to continue with the dynamic between the front-of-house and the kitchen. I wanted to cook in front of customers and be involved with them. So I came up with the gourmet casual idea of Grégoire.

1851: What was missing in the space before? What void does Grégoire fill? 

Jacquet: There is nothing like it out there - from the quality of food for the price and timeliness to the franchise business model of having a culinary hub kitchen. No one was doing gourmet meals and putting it in a to-go box for on-the-go meals. We use high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, and everything is made in-house – from mayonnaise to pickled vegetables to smoked salmon. We change the menu quarterly based on seasonality. 

1851: What led you to franchising?

Jacquet: When the pandemic started, restaurants struggled and many closed, but Grégoire never shut down or lost money because it already had a to-go-centric system. That made me realize this was a business model that customers and owners alike could rely on. I love being my own boss; it’s rewarding to be locally known and have that personal connection with the customers. And I want to share that with others.

1851: What are your growth goals? What is the vision that you want your brand to fulfill?

Jacquet: I would love to change what the word “franchise” means. When people think of food franchises, they often envision fast food or low-quality food. I want to bring a change to restaurant franchising with high-quality fine food. I’ve perfected the concept over 20 years, so this is a proven model franchisees can have confidence in. 

1851: Why is the brand a good investment?

Jacquet: As a franchisor, we will be closely involved with every franchisee. We’re not giving franchisees pamphlets, training them for a short period, and then disappearing. We’re going to be part of their business on a daily basis to make sure they have their questions answered and the support they need to be successful. 

1851: How does the brand support franchisees?

Jacquet: Beyond the obvious things like comprehensive training, on-boarding, grand opening support, marketing, food distribution and expense management, and tech support; perhaps the most important aspect of franchisee support is our culinary hub kitchen. The hub will handle the daily creation of every menu item from scratch. Franchisees simply go on their Grégoire app and order whatever they need for the next day, and it will be delivered in the morning. It’s  specifically designed for easy ordering, pricing, and delivery.