Continuing its rapid expansion across the country, street food chain Fishbowl has innovated its product offering as part of a new push to bring value-conscious customers in during a cost of living crisis. The brand – which has positioned itself as a healthy, QSR option – has opened seven new locations across just Queensland over the last 12 months, with its newest, Surfers Paradise store opening this month. The fast food chain is expected to have 45 stores under its belt by
by the end of the calendar year. Beyond Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Fishbowl has its sights set on a US launch within the next 12 months. Co-founder and marketing director Nicolas Pestalozzi told Inside Retail that this would represent a big step for the brand, which is striving to reinvent the fast food industry for a health-conscious audience. “When you think about Queensland, to grow to seven stores in 12 months is pretty rapid. We’ve grown a lot over this period, and we’re continuing to focus on building our presence within these communities, and developing our customer base,” Pestalozzi said. “The US is another challenge ahead for us and it’s one that we’re excited about.” Scratching a different itch The retail industry is continuing to battle dampened consumer demand and soaring expenses, with Fishbowl being no exception. Looking to reach new audiences – including those seeking healthy meals on a budget – Fishbowl has introduced its new, ‘street food’ range. Thesimplified range – presented in boxes rather than bowls – is being rolled out across its entire store network. It includes the same amount of protein as its salad options, but without the “abundance of vegetables,” or the ability to customise the dish. Sold at a reduced cost, it is part of Fishbowl’s larger vision of innovating its product offering, while also removing price as a significant barrier to entry. “You might think that the new menu would cannibalise our existing sales, but what we’ve learned is that it’s helping us reach new audiences. For instance, it’s attractive to people who want something that’s easy and healthy, but might not feel like a big salad bowl,” Pestalozzi said. “It’s also a smashable meal [that] scratches a slightly different itch to a salad. It also speaks to a wider audience which allows us to be more competitive in the QSR space.” The menu was introduced last week, with Pestalozzi stating that it had reportedly led to a 30 per cent bump in sales over the first four days of opening. Global ambitions Regarding its global ambitions, Pestalozzi explained that there is significant potential for healthy dining options within the QSR landscape. However, Fishbowl is taking it one store at a time. “Our focus is on maintaining that quality, and we have to be really careful about finding the right locations. We’re not at that stage where we can open and close stores as we please,” he said. “We’re also a bit niche in that we don’t have relatively unhealthy options like fries. We’re working to change the culture around fast food, and serve a great product at scale. However, he pointed to the demise of certain delivery platforms as evidence supporting the fact that customers are beginning to change the way that they consume, in part due to cost of living pressures. These macroeconomic conditions have also compelled the brand to rethink how it can reach more customers. “For customers who eat at Fishbowl once a week, they will still get that salad bowl. But they might be more inclined to come in [on additional days], and grab a street food box on those other occasions,” he said. Healthy lifestyle choices Outside of expansion plans, Fishbowl is collaborating with Lululemon as part of a fun run for World Mental Health day on October 10, and is raising funds for Movember. Additionally, it is continuing its partnership with Flying Fox, and is working with schools on education sessions around health and nutrition. “It’s all part of our ethos around enabling people to make healthier lifestyle choices, and changing what fast food [can be],” he said. Pestalozzi noted that the brand is continuing to roll out stores across Australia, soon the U.S., and is planning to launch an app in Spring, with details to be revealed. “We’re also looking to work with other brands that are aligned with us and what we’re doing,” he said.