CoreLife Eatery's Healthy Mission is Ready to Go Big

 CoreLife Eatery's Healthy Mission is Ready to Go Big



company I can think of that would do anything to promote fasting,” he says.


Davis is referencing the fast casual’s “CoreLife Challenge,” a 21-day food journey inspired by customers. This past year, with help from ambassador and future franchisee Tim Tebow, CoreLife engaged a record 20,000 participants. There were about 6,000 in 2017.


This kind of growth is part of the 4-year-old chain’s everyday narrative lately. CoreLife upped its number of locations by roughly double last year, which lifted revenue 133 percent.


There are now 55 stores with 65 total expected by year’s end, and another 25 or so on deck for 2020. In the next five years, CoreLife believes it will hit 300 restaurants, including corporate and franchised growth. The latter model is what’s fueling CoreLife’s ascension, Davis says. Currently, the split is about 50/50, but the direction has flipped from a corporate-heavy focus in the early days. Davis says CoreLife wanted to have a base of stores to build on so it could understand its evolution from the trenches, and then react. And now, it’s matured to the point where the first couple waves of CoreLife’s franchise groups are into their second and third stores. That internal expansion will continue, Davis says, as will onboarding new operators into the mix for next year and beyond.


CoreLife’s decision to accelerating franchising wasn’t reactionary. The method was in its DNA. CoreLife was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 2015 by a small team of experienced franchised experts who had the same vision many entrepreneurs do—take what they’ve seen from years of work and make it better. In this case, develop a more effective system to bring healthy food nationwide.


Mansfield was joined by Larry Wilson (now CEO) and John Caveny. Wilson operated 25 Moe’s Southwest Grills as well as Hoopla franchise froyo shops. Caveny founded Jo-Li-Me café—the restaurant CoreLife converted into its first eatery. Mansfield, a partner with the company, spent decades practicing physical therapy and functional medicine.


Naturally, CoreLife isn’t the first health-focused chain looking to bring quality food to the masses. But the brand has gone about it different than most. You look at CoreLife and its bone broth bowls, “power plates,” and figure it must reside in Manhattan or LA. Actually, it’s avoided the big urban areas, electing instead for suburban, secondary markets. Places like Vestal, New York; Strongsville, Ohio; and Sandy Utah. (Check out the full list here).


What that accomplishes right out of the gate, Davis says, is to make CoreLife one of the first players in its space when it lands. It isn’t fighting for share with 20 other grain-bowl concepts on the same city block. It’s more akin to how Panera Bread drew its real estate path to 2,300 locations. Davis knows the model well. He was Panera’s chief concept officer from its inception in 1996 until December 2015, and a confidant of former CEO Ron Shaich.


More mainstream brands, like Panera and Chipotle, are the marketplace and competitive set Davis sees CoreLife competing with. Not the food halls and downtown, flashy concepts.


“That’s certainly differentiating,” he says. “We’re going to a different audience in a different space.”

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