Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ingredients: Fast Food Heaven

One of the best fast food experiences I’ve enjoyed recently was in, of all places, Cincinnati. It’s called Ingredients and it’s healthy, fresh, tasty, a far cry from pizza and fried chicken, and it really is fast. Imagine a large, spacious production line with four production workers. You choose your base - Romaine, Mesclun, lettuce or mixed lettuces - and the production worker adds your choice of black beans, peas, asparagus, cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, eggs, etc. As you make your choices, he grinds them up on top of the lettuce in a salad bowl. Then the bowl is passed on to another worker along the production line who adds your shots of protein - chicken, tuna, steak, salmon and so on. Again, as you choose, they are pounded into a salad bowl along with one of nine dressings, including three very tasty fat-free Italian, Ranch and vinaigrette choices. When you meal is complete, it is handed over to you.

It’s lightening fast, faultless, efficient and very tasty, thanks to all the ingredients being fresh, fresh, fresh. The whole process takes zero time but delivers maximum freshness. If you don’t want to take the salad option, there’s a grill and pizza oven which works along the same principles. You choose and personalize, they produce at lightening speed. There’s also pre-prepared cereal, drinks, snacks, etc. Then, for dining, there is a very spacious, airy environment.

Ingredients is one of the best combinations of interactivity, personalization, great service, mobility, freshness and health I have ever come across. In the two days I was in Cincinnati with P&G, one of their great salads sufficed for 2.5 meals. American portions after all.


Piotr Jakubowski said...

I'm assuming this is a single store business.

In terms of the expansion into multiple stores, do you think that's when the quality and speed tends to falter? It seems that once expansion begins, management has to focus more on consistency and maintaining the reputation that started with the first one.

Kevin Roberts said...

It is a single store and quality often suffers from expansion. Howard Schultz of Starbucks is making a push to return to the quality of their smaller days. I do believe quality can be maintained as you scale, but it takes an organization with peak performance.