Many restaurant development consultants counsel clients to open the second unit of any startup chain in a market geographically removed from the original. Their reasoning: The owners will learn more about their concept-good and bad-and learn it faster by making it stand on its own in a distant market. Cereality's tale is one more piece of evidence about why this advice is correct.
The company's concept is simple: all-day cereal and not much else. Cereality offers 30 brands of cold cereal drawn straight from the supermarket shelves. Customers can have their cereal straight or mixed together into signature combos, and can top it off with one or more of the multiple options available-fruit, nuts, Reese's pieces, and even yogurt-flax bark for hard-core healthy dining types. Customers also get their choice of milk (skim, 2%, whole or soy). The finished product is served in a 26-ounce leakproof container. The standard two-scoop version goes for $2.95; the "Kitchen Sink"-three scoops, three toppings-costs $5.69. Hours are from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The first Cereality Café opened at Arizona State University in 2003 and the second unit, located near Philadelphia's Wharton School of Economics, began serving in December 2004. But even though unit No. 2 has a college-related location, it attracted a different sort of crowd--cube-dwellers from nearby offices.
"We get these really geeky business executives in buttoned-up suits," Roth told Newsweek. "They show up at lunch with these big smiles: 'Our wives don't let us eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but here we can eat it in secret.'"
Justly encouraged, Roth opened the third Cereality unit earlier last month. This one's in Chicago, a 1,300-sq.-ft. store located as 100 S. Wacker, across from the Mercantile Exchange.
"We picked this location because it was in the heart of the financial district as well as near all of the trains where the commuters come in and out of the city, morning and night," Roth says. Translation: forget the college kids; they're going for office workers now.
But Cereality will be exploring other markets, too. Tentative plans include new units at a toll plaza in the Northeast, at an airport and in two other markets, all of them to be open by the end of the year. None of the new units will be on college campuses.
Could you get in on the action by putting brand-name cereals on your breakfast menu, either as standalone items or mixed together into signature combinations? Why not? The market for them, as Cereality has ably demonstrated, is largely untapped,