Think you can't combine takeout and fine dining? Think again.

Grégoire Jacquet is the founder and chef of Grégoire, a French concept that brings together the seemingly opposing worlds of fine dining and takeout by combining quality fine dining-style food with the convenience of a quick carryout experience. After 20 years of success with this crossover concept, Jacquet is now choosing to expand through franchising.


gregoire jacquet
Grégoire Jacquet

Jacquet started his career in fine dining in France and the U.S. before moving on to the Ritz Carlton's catering department to learn how to manage people in addition to a kitchen. He also picked up a lot of business tactics while there, “I learned a lot about numbers; I learned a lot about food cost and labor cost.”

After a few years operating as an executive sous chef in various places, including Puerto Rico, Jacquet moved back to Berkeley, California, where he opened Grégoire in June 2002. “Grégoire came because of my need to have good food at any time,” he says, noting that consumers were restricted to ordering food during a restaurant’s limited operating hours. “So I decided to do this takeout style, fine dining restaurant that would be open all day long.

“I didn't want a dining room; I wanted something really casual and fast, and I wanted to be able to talk to the customers.”

Making the Menu

Grégoire offers high quality, to-go, lunch-centric items like sandwiches, salads, and soups. To create the menu, Jacquet started by getting in touch with vendors and farmers he used to work with in the Bay Area’s fine dining scene to source quality ingredients and products. However, since Grégoire was not a fine dining restaurant, Jacquet had to get creative with the cuts and ingredients he used.

He purchased cheaper cuts of meat, which weren’t common at the time, and focused on elevating them through ingredients and cooking techniques. For example, for Grégoire’s cod sandwich, he poached the cod in extra virgin olive oil. This helped to cut down on costs and control the pricing so that it remained on par with the takeout model.

Today, the menu changes seasonally but still features some of the staples like the restaurant’s signature crispy potato puffs. For the newly released spring menu, Grégoire is featuring sandwiches with smoked salmon, fried chicken, lamb, and more. The protein options can also be added to a salad.

Over the years, the biggest changes to the menu have been customer-driven. Jacquet points out that he added soups and the option to add proteins and other ingredients to salads to meet customer demand. He also reduced the menu during the pandemic and got rid of dinner items, so the shop focuses solely on lunch now. Grégoire also offers catering as an additional revenue source to its takeout options.

As for current trends, Jacquet notices people are more health conscious. “I'm always looking for things that are good and plant based,” he says, noting that it can be hard to find a quality plant-based alternative that fits his model.

Grégoire's potato puffs are a staple menu item.
Photo: Grégoire

Packaging & Presentation

In addition to getting the menu right, one of the biggest challenges facing Jacquet in a takeout model that professed fine dining quality was the way the food was presented. How would it stay hot or cold on the way to the customer? How could the presentation, taste, and texture remain the same in a takeout model as it would be when dining in? It all came down to the takeout packaging, and what was available on the market didn’t work for Jacquet.

“So I designed a box that would allow the food to stay the way I wanted it to be and presented the way I wanted it to be,” he says. “We came up with a corrugated style of box that we still use as of today. It's really also a signature item.”

Jacquet says the takeout boxes with their branding are so recognizable that they have become a marketing tool. “It's one of a kind, so everyone actually knows the box and where it comes from,” he says.

Grégoire takeout and fine dining
Grégoire's unique corrugated takeout box has become a valuable branding tool. (Photo: Grégoire)

Customer Experience

Another unique aspect of fine dining is the customer experience, but Jacquet has been able to maintain his customer relationships without a dining room or any dine-in customers from the start.

“Because we were takeout, we were not very expensive. We started doing business with a lot of local customers and our local businesses, so they would come pretty much all the time because the price point was great,” says Jacquet. “And I was there to talk to them, so I knew everyone.”

Even with the onset of technology, Jacquet has used it to mainly automate repetitive tasks that aren’t customer-facing. “I want to try to eliminate all the pain points I had all these years in order to make it efficient,” he says, noting this frees up workers to focus more on the customer interaction and quality of the food.

He also recognizes that some customers skew much more towards the “convenience” aspect of his concept, so he has leaned into technology to meet the demands of those customers. “We have a kiosk outside that makes things efficient when there's people that just don't want to talk to anybody,” he says. “But a lot of people want the interaction with the cashier, and we always have that available.”

Jacquet has also introduced a rewards program, which further helps Grégoire retain its repeat customer base. “When we look at the credit cards and we analyze the repeats, between 64-72% of the customers are repeat customers within the last week,” he says.

Thanks to his efforts in nurturing customer relationships, branding, and rewards programs, Jacquet says much of his growth is organic through things like word-of-mouth. His involvement in the community through local and charity events also helps, and the company has also put a larger focus on social media in the last few months. He says he sees 6% growth year over year.

Franchising Opportunities

Now Jacquet is looking to share his successful business model through franchising. Grégoire is looking to partner with franchisees to bring locations to other areas of California, including San Francisco, Napa, Marin, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. The brand’s goal is to have eight to 10 locations by the end of 2024, with an eye on future markets in states like Texas, Florida, and New York.

One of the other things that may help draw continued attention to Grégoire is their upcoming culinary truck, launching this spring. Jacquet is adamant about not calling it a food truck because the concept will be so different.

Always focused on the customer experience, his truck will feature an open kitchen concept thanks to a huge window that people will be able to see the kitchen through. In the back of the truck, customers will be able to order at a counter that is down at their level versus up high. “They'll be face-to-face, there is not going to be a window, it's going to be completely open,” Jacquet explains.

The menu will mirror Grégoire’s, and Jacquet also plans to use the truck to help promote new franchise locations, “I want to help the franchisee open, and we'll do marketing promotions before the store opens, give away free food, and build the excitement for the opening.”


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