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Kaskaid Hospitality Uses New Concepts to Expand

A willingness to explore new concepts and a desire to expand into new communities are guiding principles for Kaskaid Hospitality. The Twin Cities restaurant and events center company recently opened its fifth Twin Cities Crave American Kitchen & Sushi Bar restaurant, in the Woodbury Lakes Center. With its Burger Burger and Zio Cucina concepts opening at Mall of America this month, and another Salsa A La Salsa location opening in Minnetonka, Kaskaid is on the move. And it is doing so at a time when many restaurateurs are pulling back on expansion or even shutting the doors of longtime establishments.

Founded in 2007, Kaskaid Hospitality is a privately held company. Owners Kam and Keyvan Talebi currently operate almost 20 restaurants nationwide, as well as a full-service catering company, nightclub, and event center in Minneapolis. Crave gives Kaskaid a national presence, with the five Twin Cities restaurants as well as locations in Coral Gables, Florida; Omaha, Nebraska; Cincinnati, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Bethesda, Maryland; and Las Vegas, Nevada. Its other Twin Cities-only restaurants are Union Rooftop and Union Bar and Grill, and Urban Eatery.

Kaskaid also owns and operates Crave Catering, Muse Event Center, BLVD Kitchen & Bar, Salsa a la Salsa, and REV Ultra Lounge. 

Kaskaid is known for not being afraid to shutter restaurants, and to rework its various concepts. It relocated, reinvented and then closed its version of Figlio. It also kept the Southern-style restaurant Boneyard open for less than a year, before converting it to Salsa a la Salsa

Zach Sussman, director of marketing for Kaskaid, said the company looks carefully at demographics, customer demands and details of potential sites before making decisions to rework restaurants or expand to new communities. In the case of Woodbury Lakes, there was also customer pressure.

“We had so much demand from the Woodbury area,” said Sussman. “We would hear from people on social media, saying, ‘When are you going to open Crave in Woodbury?’ ‘We need a Crave in Woodbury.’ We’d always wanted a St. Paul area presence and the more we looked at Woodbury, the more it became a logical choice.”

Kaskaid officials have looked at expanding the Crave brand for more than six years, Sussman said. The company is not ruling out one or two additional locations in the Twin Cities, with at least one more in the east metro.

Another concept Kaskaid is especially excited about is Burger Burger. 

“It’s our first foray into the fast-casual market,” Sussman said. The concept taps into diners’ interest in eating healthier, locally sourced foods including meats and vegetables. Buns come from St. Paul’s Saint Agnes Bakery.

Another new concept is Avenida Cocina and Bar, which will offer a wide range of Latin-inspired cuisine at its location near I-394 and Hopkins Crossroads.   

While Kaskaid’s growth strategy could easily be described as robust, Sussman said company officials are mindful to not grow its brands too fast. Company leaders are aware of what is successful and what needs changes. 

“We try to be nimble and adapt to changing customer tastes,” he said. “We have experience with a wide range of concepts and potentially nothing is off limits.”

Rolling out new concepts and choosing the right locations are a challenge, Sussman said. 

“You have to look at demographics, consumer tastes and hiring and training the right staff,” he said.

While Sussman said Kaskaid won’t rule out future national expansion of any of its other restaurant concepts, its main focus will always be the twin Cities. “The Twin Cities is our home,” he said. “We love this market and we have a pretty good understanding of what this market will support." 

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