Meet The Vendors: Brown Bag Seafood Co

How to grow responsibly 101.

Brown Bag Seafood Co. at Revival Food Hall is our second location to pop up since we first opened doors in Chicago’s New East Side neighborhood. Like any new opening, this was a very exciting process. From start to finish, we were thrilled and inspired to be surrounded by so many innovative food and dining concepts at Revival Food Hall.

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With that said, what does one do when they are excited? Typically, they move swiftly, which often means they aren’t fully analyzing every move they make. For instance, we decided to create a new take on our top-selling “Powerbox.” On top of the original Powerbox build of ancient grains and spinach, we added a layer of sautéed veggies. At the time, I thought I was taking the most popular item from our original menu and making it even more appealing. As I found out in our 4th month of operation, I should’ve thought this through more thoroughly, as the original Powerbox continues to be our #1 seller at Revival Food Hall, while the “new and improved” Powerbox lags behind the rest.

After the hectic first 90 days of a new opening, most restaurant operators find the time to analyze the business. In our case, I looked at the performance of our first location, compared with the second, and something was notably different. I ran through all common factors. Did the dishwasher on staff for only two weeks steal in September?  Is my staff not trained properly? Are my vendors jabbing me with crazy new pricing? No. No. No. So, what was it?!

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After diving deep into all possibilities, we realized that the little willy nilly decision to toss on sautéed veggies is what killed us. We are now in the process of bridging the gap to create a consistent definition of the “Powerbox” at both of our Brown Bag Seafood Co. locations. The same will hold true for our 3rd restaurant opening in Roscoe Village this summer.  So, the lesson here is, repeat what works and experiment responsibly!

-Donna Lee

Founder, Brown Bag Seafood Co.