Zoes Kitchen

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Zoës Kitchen began in 1995 as a family-run restaurant in Homewood, Alabama. The company’s owner, president & CEO, John Cassismus had turned his attention from his own business ventures to the family business, with desires to build a world-class company. Mostly frequented by mothers with small children and white-collar employees in the area, the restaurant catered to those consumers with a desire for healthy foods at comparatively lower prices. As of December 2005 there were 16 locations in five different states. The brand was strong and synonymous with freshness, home-style goodness and family recipes. The menu boasted healthy selections, mostly with a Greek influence which consumers could also purchase in larger quantities for take-home consumption.
The industry outlook was good for Zoës Kitchen. The only expected growth in the now mature restaurant industry was expected to come from the fast-casual segment, and as a ‘member’ of this segment, Zoës Kitchen was positioned well for growth opportunity. However, it also faced the inherent threat of fierce industry competition. The threat came from many directions; new players entering directly into the fast-casual market, as well as other large players already in the restaurant business looking to grab market share (i.e. fast-food restaurants offering healthier & fresher choices).
Zoës Kitchen was operating on a focused differentiation strategy; aiming at securing competitive advantage by appealing to the specific needs and desires of a well-defined market of consumers. A marketing survey completed for Zoës Kitchen showed that their loyal customer base placed the highest value on quality and service, not on price. This survey confirmed that a ‘low-cost’ strategy was not necessarily a good choice for the company. The broad differentiation strategy would not allow the time or attention on such a well-defined niche that John Cassismus would have desired. The company is striving to capitalize on a very specific niche;

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