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A Closer Look at Modern Market’s Value Engineering

The brand's strategic approach to construction and facilities management is setting new standards in the industry, ensuring that franchisees can launch and operate their locations successfully while maintaining high-quality culinary offerings.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 05/01/24

Modern Market Eatery, the 30-plus-unit, fast-casual franchise under the Modern Restaurant Concepts umbrella, is revolutionizing the fast-casual dining industry in a number of ways. One standout is its pioneering approach to restaurant construction and design. So, how does Modern Market pull it off?

"We incorporated several lessons from the last restaurants we opened to significantly reduce building costs,” said David Medley, Director of Construction and Facilities for Modern Market. “This effort is aimed at streamlining the construction package to make it financially easier for franchisees. As we move into this new era of development, we are continuing to ask the question: How do we keep building costs down?”

Reducing Building Costs Without Compromising Quality

Medley, sharing an inside look at some of the strategies behind this cost-saving approach, says there are two primary costs: “A cost to purchase and a cost to own.” 

“By adopting ventless technology, for example, we completely eliminated the need for hoods since we don't fry foods,” said Medley. “Switching to a culinary process that uses a combi-oven, we've also rendered the griddle and flat top unnecessary. This change drastically cut our equipment and construction costs, including reducing the need for extensive maintenance on hood systems for cleaning and fire suppression, thereby helping to keep overall costs down.”

Modern Market is also setting benchmarks in energy efficiency and operational convenience. "We've focused on electrical improvements, integrating the latest LED lighting controls and systems that automatically adjust based on external light conditions,” Medley said. “These advancements not only lead to significant energy savings but also enhance operational aesthetics, removing the need for manual control adjustments by general managers or operators. This gives us an added operational advantage.”

A rethink in sourcing strategy, prompted by the pandemic, has led to significant improvements in the supply chain. Medley highlights the shift away from overseas suppliers and the selection of alternative materials — such as flooring tiles — that maintain the brand's aesthetic standards while being more cost-effective. 

Size also plays a pivotal role in Modern Market Eatery's strategy to keep construction costs manageable, with restaurants thriving in spaces as small as 2,000 square feet. By prioritizing scratch-cooking in relatively compact spaces, Modern Market has masterfully balanced efficiency with culinary excellence. This thoughtful approach is further enhanced by the integration of designated pick-up zones for order-ahead and delivery services, streamlining operations and maintaining a clutter-free dining and cash register area. 

“Modern Market really proves that bigger sales do not always require bigger spaces,” Medley said. “We are optimizing smaller spaces to achieve greater efficiency and customer satisfaction, which simultaneously reduces initial buildout costs.”

A Collaborative Effort Toward Cost Reduction

And these value engineering strategies aren’t just conceptual — they’ve been tried-and-tested through the brand’s two most recent restaurant openings. This includes a new 2,400-square-foot franchise location in Kansas City, Missouri, opened by Thrive Restaurant Group, as well as its newest corporate location in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This restaurant offers the first drive-thru design for Modern Market.

“We've worked together with our franchise partners in Kansas City to identify best practices and minimize building costs,” Medley said. “We are constantly challenging our suppliers and manufacturing representatives to lower prices, for example. This is an ongoing and collective effort, but we've already achieved a reduction in our equipment package costs by as much as 10% through price comparisons and alternative equipment selections that do not compromise our culinary standards.”

Although each location is different, Medley says the team has been able to reduce its millwork package costs by about 35% through these efforts, without compromising the look or quality of the restaurants.

Positioned for Success

Modern Market Eatery continues to demonstrate its leadership in the fast-casual sector, proving that careful engineering of both menu and restaurant design can significantly enhance efficiency and sustainability. With its focus on innovation, cost efficiency and collaborative partnerships, Modern Market offers a compelling opportunity for entrepreneurs.

The estimated initial investment ranges between $928,500 and $1.5 million for a single Modern Market Eatery restaurant. The 18 company-owned Modern Market locations open for the fiscal year of 2023 saw an impressive AUV of $2.3 million.*

*More details are available in Modern Market Eatery’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).

For more information on franchising with Modern Market Eatery, visit: