Organic food grocer Whole Foods Market has made a minority investment in sandwich chain Mendocino Farms. The move gives the retailer another asset in its private brand portfolio to enhance customer experience and build differentiation. As part of the deal, Whole Foods plans to test the opening of Mendocino Farms outlets in select stores. The test will likely include “365 by Whole Foods Markets,” which are scheduled for launch in the late 2016.
David Lannon, executive vice president of operations at Whole Foods, told Nations Restaurant News: “Mendocino Farms is one of the best sandwich and salad concepts coming out of Southern California and we believe it’s one of the top emerging restaurant brands in the country. We are always looking at trends in the food industry, especially those that complement our existing offerings. Aside from offering delicious, high-quality products we think our customers will love, Mendocino Farms’ core values align well with our own, and that’s very important to us.”
The first Mendocino Farms in a Whole Foods is expected to be in Orange County, Calif., or the Los Angeles area, but the test may also include Northern California.
Founded in 2005, Mendocino Farms is a premium fast-casual restaurant, with chef-driven sandwiches and salads made with sustainable ingredients.