Shopping Center Business

MAY 2017

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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RETAIL REVIEW 70 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2017 W hen envisioning a restaurant concept born in Texas, one might expect Mexican-inspired dishes, or rib sticking barbecue and bris- ket. For Michael Heyne and Dominik Stein, co-creators of VERTS Mediterra- nean Grill, the Lone Star State brought in- spiration of a different sort. The duo saw an untapped need in the market for fast and healthy, Mediterranean-inspired fare. "I was born in Germany, and the most important fast food in Europe is Medi- terranean-inspired food, typically served by mom and pop restaurants," says Stein. "Essentially, Mediterranean restaurants in Europe are like the equivalent of a burger in America. I really missed that cuisine, and felt there might be a market for it here." After the duo graduated from business school at the University of Texas at Aus- tin, they decided to open up the first two VERTS locations in Austin to test out whether or not the concept could be a success in the states. "What's special about us is that it's a chef-driven concept," says Stein. "Food quality and the importance of taste are the core of our brand and the core of our concept." The menu offers consumers the choice between a base of pita, rice, quinoa or salad. From there, VERTS offers a se- lection of meats, vegetables and low-calo- rie sauces to suit a variety of tastes. Culinary teams in each restaurant fresh- ly prepare everything from meatballs and falafel, to roasted red pepper sauce and hummus daily to ensure a high quality of- fering for the consumer. "Mediterranean food is known for being very healthy," says Stein. "Our house-made tzatziki is only 16 calories per-serving, and most meals come in at less than 600 calories. It was import- ant to us to focus on providing nutritious and satisfying meals that our visitors could leave feeling good about." The look and feel of VERTS restaurant was designed to mirror the freshness and chef-driven quality of the cuisine. "Every- thing in our restaurants represents our overall goal to serve healthy, nutritious food at its core," says Stein. "We use a lot of natural and reclaimed wood with very light and warm colors for the restaurant to give it a chef-driven, farm-to-table feel. We like our restaurants to look clean and organized, but at the same time feel warm and approachable." The concept currently has close to 30 restaurants open in Texas and along the East Coast, with plans to expand further into new territories in the coming years. "We're exclusively corporate, and we Mediterranean Made Easy Fast-casual concept VERTS brings Mediterranean-inspired eats to healthy diners on the go. Katie Sloan Roughly 30 VERTS locations are open throughout Texas and the East Coast. The Mediterranean fast casual concept was created by Michael Heyne and Dominik Stein in Austin, Texas.

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