Young Entrepreneurs: Matt Matros of Protein Bar
Young Entrepreneurs: Matt Matros of Protein Bar

The Protein Bar and Limitless Coffee & Tea founder is successfully launching new companies by filling a void in the restaurant industry.

The health food trend has become such a big part of the restaurant industry today that it’s hard to remember a time when its impact wasn’t as large. But back in 2009 when Matt Matros founded Protein Bar, consumers were just starting to consider nutrition when dining out at fast casual chains.

Matros got the idea for Protein Bar the same way a lot of entrepreneurs think of their next big thing—there wasn’t anything else out there like it. And after adopting a healthy lifestyle, he needed a healthier alternative to traditional fast food when he was on the go.

In an interview with the National Restaurant Association, Matros said, “My father died of a heart attack at 48, and I didn’t want that same future for myself. So I committed to a high-protein diet, started exercising and lost 60 pounds.” He continued, “We think we can really build a category for healthy fast food. Our mission is to change the way people eat on the go. Things are good for Protein Bar.”

At first, Protein Bar was focused solely on smoothies and cold-pressed juice. But Matros eventually decided to add food with a nutritious spin, like subbing in quinoa for rice and only using egg whites. The brand’s unique positioning couldn’t have made its debut at a better time—Protein Bar became a fan favorite among health-minded consumers.

As the health food trend continued to grow, so did Protein Bar. But Matros decided to leave his position as the brand’s CEO behind in order to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities. While he still sits on Protein Bar’s board, Matros is now focusing on building up his new company, Limitless Coffee & Tea. The brand only uses direct-imported, “wet washed” beans that they’re positioning as a health product.

“In coffee, there are brands based on community, convenience and craft. We’re creating a whole new positioning—an entirely new category,” Matros told Crain’s Chicago Business. He added, “We just want to sell the cleanest beans possible. We want to be the opposite of the hipster coffee bars. This is performance coffee for urban professionals.”

While Protein Bar and Limitless Coffee & Tea are unique brands, they’re still a part of the ever-growing health food segment of the restaurant industry. And after successfully launching his fast casual food and drink chain, Matros says that the key to success for both companies is ultimately the same.

During the National Restaurant Association’s and Technomic’s Fast Casual 2015 Trends & Directions conference, Matros said, “The best marketing is a great guest experience. Happy employees result in happy customers.”