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How Grégoire Is Bringing Fine Dining to the Fast-Casual Industry

Founded by Grégoire Jacquet, a chef with over four decades of classical French culinary training, this unique franchise is challenging the norms and setting new standards in the foodservice sector.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 5:17PM 03/13/24

In an era where the demand for convenience in dining experiences is ever-rising, French-inspired restaurant franchise Grégoire refuses to let quality go by the wayside as a result, seamlessly blending the sophistication of fine dining with the accessibility of the fast-casual industry. 

“We are unique because of the concept that we have — 21 years ago, when we started, the idea of offering fine-dining food and putting it into a box was unheard of, both for the consumer and for the franchisee,” said founder and gourmet chef Grégoire Jacquet. “People just didn't understand what I was doing.

A Unique Culinary Philosophy

When Grégoire began in 2002, Jacquet had a specific vision he wanted to achieve: open a local restaurant offering quality fine dining-style food with the convenience of a quick carry-out experience.

“Chefs always wanted their food to be served at their own convenience, not at the people's convenience,” said Jacquet. “I wanted to give people gourmet food, anytime, anywhere. That is how Grégoire was born.”

Rooted in Jacquet's French upbringing, Grégoire's ethos revolves around utilizing only the best farm-to-table products and locally sourced ingredients, which would be bolstered by a seasonally rotating menu. 

“Growing up in France around farms, I wanted to stick to my roots,” he said. “That is why we always use real products, nothing processed. I wanted ingredients that were from the ground, not from the factory.”

This dedication to natural, unprocessed ingredients adds an authentic touch to their menu, ensuring Grégoire stands out for the increasingly health-conscious consumer of today who doesn’t want to choose between quality and convenience — they are eager for higher-quality options that don’t require full, sit-down service. 

“Most products are simply much better when they are in season and when they are picked at the right time and brought to a restaurant that is nearby,” Jacquet said. “When you can do that, all the flavors are perfect.”

This year’s spring menu, for example, includes a smoked salmon sandwich with umeboshi cream & and fried taro matches on French round and an organic mixed green salad with baked carrots, onions, yellow squash & and pickled cucumbers, balsamic vinaigrette.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any staples on the menu. Alongside mouthwatering sandwiches, salads and sweets, the restaurant has become particularly famous for one thing: potato puffs

“People really crave the potato puff,” said Jacquet. “I have a lot of people telling me that every time they come back to Berkeley, as soon as they land, they come to Grégoire to get their potato puffs because they've been thinking about them forever. The potato puffs are ours. I created them and I know no one else has done it. So we decided to trademark it. Although you can’t really trademark a recipe, we can say that we were the first ones that made the potato puff happen.” 

Overall, Jacquet, who has worked in kitchens at high-end restaurants in both the U.S. and his home country of France, says creating such intriguing and appealing items is all about careful consideration. 

“I usually have an idea of what I want to create, but it takes time, knowledge and an artistic vision,” Jacquet said. “It’s also about what ingredients are available, and how it would work in the kitchen.”

Innovating the Franchise Model

So, now that the Grégoire brand is franchising, how does Jacquet plan to maintain these fine dining standards across multiple fast-casual locations?

“Grégoire's franchising model is built on simplification and standardization,” he said. “Franchising is all about training — if I could find a way to replicate our business model and our offerings, I knew I could make growth a lot easier. That is why we decided to keep control of the food and the creativity of the food. Franchisees don’t need to worry about being master chefs or hiring master chefs.”

Jacquet credits a key factor in delivering high-quality cuisine at the pace of fast-casual dining to Grégoire's innovative culinary hub-to-store kitchen approach. Staff at franchise locations assemble meals based on preparations done at the Grégoire culinary center, employing an intuitive software system that streamlines crucial tasks like production tracking, checking ingredient availability, managing deliveries, handling invoicing and other operations.

“A central hub makes it much easier to ensure consistency across a nationwide brand,” said Jacquet. “Our culinary hub is never further than two hours away from each location we open. No other franchises offer that — I didn’t want to sacrifice the original brand vision when I started to grow through franchising.” 

This hub-to-store kitchen model ensures that franchisees can focus on customer engagement while the culinary hub handles the logistics of food preparation. It also allows them to keep their costs more manageable. 

“When you run a restaurant, the margins are so small,” said Jacquet. “The only way you can make money is by controlling your costs. But what can you really control? The product and the labor. That's about it. We’ve reduced the footprint of the restaurant and streamlined the operations so that our franchisees can achieve a lot more with a lot less.”

A Call to Aspiring Franchisees

With the recent unveiling of its franchise initiative, Grégoire invites entrepreneurs to join at an early stage, offering a unique opportunity to be part of a venture set to revolutionize a major sector in the foodservice industry. 

Jacquet aims to welcome the first franchisee before the year's end, demonstrating the brand's readiness for rapid expansion. 

"Our objective is to onboard our inaugural franchisee promptly, showcasing our capacity for swift and substantial growth," he said. Franchise partners of Grégoire will benefit from a well-established system and the wealth of knowledge accumulated over many years in the culinary world.

The perfect candidate for a Grégoire franchise brings together passion, expertise and a set of core values that resonate with the brand's principles. Essential qualities include a genuine appreciation for the Grégoire concept and a passion for culinary arts, reflecting the brand's mission and values. 

“Eating right for me is a lifestyle,” said Jacquet. “I created Grégoire not only for the needs of the customers but also for my own needs. Overall, there is nothing like Grégoire — you won’t find another fast-casual franchise that focuses on the food more than anything else. Grégoire offers an unmatched opportunity for those interested in a franchise that merges the elegance of gourmet dining with the convenience of quick service.” 

For more information on franchising with Grégoire,