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Modern Market: A Fast-Casual Eatery Revolutionizing Dining for the Modern Consumer

From pizzas to salads, the brand’s chef-inspired and sustainably-sourced menu reflects a commitment to variety, taste and health, catering to a wide audience that values food as fuel for its active lifestyle.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 03/05/24

Modern Market Eatery understands the desires of today's health-conscious and environmentally aware diner. This unique eatery distinguishes itself by blending chef-inspired menus with sustainable practices, all while delivering meals with the speed and efficiency expected of quick-service restaurants (QSRs). It's a place where quality meets convenience, making real food accessible as the new norm for everyday dining.

"At Modern Market, we're on a mission to redefine fast food by establishing real food as the standard," said President and Co-founder Rob McColgan. “Over the years, we have perfected the art of scratch cooking, making it fast, repeatable and a delight for diners seeking both taste and health benefits. We are on a personal quest to create a dining option that serves athletes and health enthusiasts alike with tasty, nutrient-rich meals.”

A Modern Origin Story

The Modern Market brand was born in 2009 in Boulder, Colorado, with a simple yet ambitious goal: to offer a dining option that fulfills the craving for meals that are not only healthy and made with clean ingredients, but also satisfying and diverse.

“During my career in finance, I maintained close contact with my high school best friend Anthony Pigliacampo, who was engaged in engineering work in California,” said McColgan. “We had always talked about collaborating on a project together, but it had to be something we were passionate about personally. He consulted for major restaurant companies, and we often discussed the stark contrast between the U.S. fast-food culture and dining experiences abroad. We frequently dined at local, healthy bistros and cafes, leading us to ponder: what would our ideal everyday restaurant look like?”

As two busy and active people, McColgan and Pigliacampo craved a dining option that was not only healthy and made with clean ingredients but also made them feel good post-meal. “As athletes, we viewed food as fuel, necessitating both exceptional taste and a diverse menu,” said McColgan. “This philosophy shaped our initial offerings, which included an array of choices from pizzas to salads."

The flagship Modern Market restaurant opened in Boulder, Colorado in 2009. The brand experienced consistent growth over the next decade, with locations opening up across Colorado, Texas and Arizona. Currently, Modern Market operates 31 restaurants across the country. The brand is owned by parent company Modern Restaurant Concepts, which also owns fast-casual brand Qdoba.

Fresh, Quality, Crafted, Community

So, with no shortage of “better-for-you” fast-casual restaurants available to U.S. consumers, what makes Modern Market different? 

To start, McColgan says those who are curious need look no further than the brand’s chef-inspired menu. "Ingredients that are as fresh and whole as those you'd find at a local farmer's market are transformed in our kitchens into innovative, carefully prepared dishes," he said.

The Modern Market menu stands out, not just by its quality, but also by its extensive range. The menu features a variety that spans salads, sandwiches, bowls and even pizzas. Some favorites, for example, include the Salmon Caesar Salad, the Smokey Chicken Bowl, the Curry Salmon Bowl and BBQ Pizza.

Perhaps even more unique is Modern Market's commitment to sustainability. The brand prides itself on offering plant-based options and sustainably sourced, scratch-made food, working directly with top suppliers to ensure competitive pricing for its high-quality ingredients. 

This commitment not only supports the environment, but also resonates with consumers who prioritize ethical and sustainable eating practices. According to a recent survey, 90% of consumers say sustainability matters to them and 57% say restaurant sustainability practices are influencing their choices when dining away from home.

But anybody who knows about restaurants knows that the food is only half of the equation. When it comes to ambiance, Modern Market stays true to its mission. "Our establishments radiate the same warmth and energy you feel at a community market, complete with the lively hum of our open cooking spaces and the joy of people coming together over a meal,” said McColgan.

Keeping Up With the Times

Since its inception, Modern Market has continued to adapt to the changing dining habits of modern life — and this was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. But this doesn’t just apply to food trends like sustainable and plant-based options; it also applies to the way consumers purchase their food.  

“Like many other brands, we leaned heavily into delivery and digital ordering during the pandemic,” said McColgan. “Modern life makes eating out or ordering online a necessity. The more we built out our off-premise platform, the more we realized this shift towards online transactions could fundamentally transform our business.”

Armed with a robust tech stack, Modern Market not only makes online ordering as easy as possible, but has also mastered the art of catering and group ordering. This operational excellence even allowed Modern Market to introduce a drive-thru model for the first time in Colorado Springs last year, something most fast-casual restaurants struggle with.

Beyond technology, the eatery also boasts a double-sided production line and streamlined kitchen model that enables the preparation of a broad menu with impressive speed without compromising on quality. Dishes are made to order and ready in just minutes, thanks to a highly efficient kitchen workflow and trained staff capable of handling multiple tasks. 

Heading Into the Future

As Modern Market looks to the future, it remains dedicated to expanding its presence, focusing on opening new restaurants and continuing to innovate in the fast-casual dining space. This year, the team plans to open between eight and 10 new restaurants. For diners, this means Modern Market’s unique combination of fast, healthy and sustainable meals could be coming to a community near you.

“Modern Market is a revolution in the fast-casual space, promising an experience that prioritizes the health, taste and time of the modern consumer,” said McColgan. “Whether you're an athlete, a busy professional or simply someone who values good food that's good for you, Modern Market offers a dining experience that stands out in today's fast-paced, health-conscious world.”

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