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Jun 9, 2011 08:13 PM

Restaurants with 2+ locations that might be the next chain.

Any Restaurants in SF - that have several locations up to say 5 or 6 that really look and feel, taste like they have it all together enough to grow to the next level as a chain restaurant?

Anything of the sort that is a must try in SF?

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  1. Interesting question, as most folks around here would associate chains as being inferior.

    That said, the several Spices establishments around the Bay Area may fit your query.

    1. Slightly off point, but Little Sheep with locations in San Mateo and Union City is part of a Chinese chain which was just acquired by Yum Brands (owner of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), so I fully expect to see those mini-courts that currently have those three brand restaurants under one roof to welcome Little Sheep as the fourth tenant.

      Little Sheep
      34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

      1. Is this a food question or a business question? By that I mean, is the "next level" the next business level or food level.

        When does a restaurant become a chain? I like Spices but even though they have several locations the food is not really consistent between locations. Maybe to be a chain you need both outlets and uniformity.

        Maybe La Boulange fits your bill or are they already a chain?

        12 Replies
        1. re: boris_qd

          The next level is when the food goes downhill.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Good point. It will be interesting to see if Tony's Pizza Napoletana goes downhill while Tony Gemignani is juggling shops in North Beach and Manhattan's West Village. I'm a fan of the guy but it will be a test.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Understandable that bad food is what a chain might be known for. I'm really looking for emerging restaurants that have superior food quality and the goal would be to maintain that quality in multiple store formats.

              1. re: mjsp1

                I'm curious where Gemignani is going with his wood-fired pizza restaurants. Strada, in London, is a huge pizza/pasta restaurant franchise with decent uniformity, wood-fired ovens and affordable prices.

                Tony's a smart and dedicated guy. He would probably insist on a standard much higher than Strada. It will be fun to watch this guy as he spreads his wings.

                1. re: mjsp1

                  Presumably people don't start chains with the intent of selling food of lower quality than their first store, but it always happens.

                  I don't see what this topic has to do with finding delicious food.

              2. re: boris_qd

                Perhaps we should use the "Chains" board definition, which I believe requires locations in multiple states.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Interesting. So by that definition In-N-Out Burger is not a chain?

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    There are In-N-Out's in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas

              3. Hopefully they don't become chains! But a few faves are Little star pizza, Burma superstar, in the EastBay there is also La Piniata.

                3 Replies
                1. re: IvyGal

                  I don't think there's any way Little Star could maintain its quality if it expanded a whole lot more.

                  I think Burma Superstar is already inconsistent.

                  Burma Superstar
                  4721 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Why would little star lose quality by growing?

                    1. re: mjsp1

                      Because great food is almost never about replicating recipes and appealing to a broad spectrum of tastes using Sysco cutlets.

                      Consistency = homogeneity. Not the San Francisco (chef and ingredient driven) way, which is the reason we don't have a lot of branches of high-end chains like Las Vegas does.

                      Pizza's not a very interesting example though. But the reason to go to Tony's Pizza is Tony himself--world pizza throwing champion, pizza fanatic. Once Tony's in NY, the quality in San Francisco will certainly diminish, even if he handbuilds each oven, mentors the pizza makers, etc

                      The goal of chains is growth and consistent profits for investors, not a great dining experience.

                2. Lanesplitter. Good pizza. 4 stores? All in the East Bay. Not very chain-like however.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ML8000

                    Five if you count the two takeout-only stores. It's very chain-like in that they all have the same menu. Not very chain-like in that the pizza is good.