How local restaurant Chipmonks went from “surviving to thriving” through virtual restaurant brands

Meet Chipmonks: Chicago’s Comfort Food Gem

First things first, let’s talk Chipmonks: a beloved Lakeview fast-food eatery, specializing in American & Italian cuisines. The local spot offers every mouth-watering item you could ask for in one menu from burgers, to hot dogs, to Philly cheesesteaks, pasta, mac-n-cheese, and (every type) of sandwich. One-click onto the Chipmonks’ site will have you salivating at the mouth. And (if you’re anything like us) desperately craving the Italian Sausage sandwich. In this customer story, we’ll dig into the Chipmonks story, COVID-19’s impact on the business, and how owner Joseph increased sales and revenue through virtual restaurant brands and Future Foods.

The Challenge: Buying Chipmonks during COVID-19

Chipmonks has been a Chicago staple for over three decades under three different owners. When we call Joseph Kaleel (Chipmonk’s current & third owner), we were met with a fascinating introduction. A fire academy graduate, Joseph worked as an EMT and then a welder before pivoting into the restaurant industry. With virtually no restaurant experience, Joseph bought Chipmonks at the tail-end of 2019, right before the pandemic hit. The timing? Awful, to say the least. 

“I got dealt a pretty bad hand. We went from a slow winter to a lockdown that crippled the whole neighborhood. It was pretty much survival mode, and Chipmonks was hanging on by a thread. I’m the kind of guy that tries to keep up with trends and learn as much as possible. I had to do something different, so when Future Foods called me, I was ready to try anything.” 

The Solution: Running Virtual Restaurant Brands with Future Foods 

A natural entrepreneur, Joseph Kaleel didn’t let the devastation of the pandemic stop him from thinking outside of the box to find a way to make it work. Chipmonks needed a lifeboat—and fast. So when Joseph received a call from the Future Foods team, he was immediately game. 

“I thought you know what? I don’t want to be holding on by a thread anymore, I want to earn some income. Future Foods helped me get off the ground. It was a good thing from the start because Future Foods’ menu was already compatible with Chipmonks. It was easy to get started. We already were making Philly cheesesteaks, burgers, hot dogs, and pasta, so I didn’t have to do a menu overhaul.”

In April, Chipmonks began delivering Future Food’s Philly cheesesteak brand, Juicy Cheesesteaks. Since the restaurant already made and delivered their own cheesesteaks, getting started was quick and easy. 

Image of Cheesesteaks on Blue and White Parchment Paper
APRIL: Chipmonks begins delivering Future Food’s Juicy Cheesesteaks. 

After finding success with Juicy Cheesesteaks, Joseph asked the Future Foods team for more virtual restaurant brands. In July, Chipmonks began delivering Future Food’s Thick Chick, Big Hot Dog Energy, and Ranch Burger co. 

Thick Chick, Joseph tells us, is Chipmonks’ top-performing brand. And by now, we already know Joseph is a badass business owner, so he (you guessed it!) asked for even more virtual restaurant brands. 

 “I’ve had days where a Future Foods brand alone topped out my indoor and online sales combined. So, I called [Future Foods]  back and said this is really working for me. What other brands do you have?” 

There’s virtually no limit to the number of brands Future Foods offers, so Chipmonks added Pasta Glory, Fusilli Fusilli, and Pimp my Pasta to their virtual brand roster. 

The Results: Chipmonks’ x Future Foods’ Fairy-Tale Ending

Twelve virtual restaurant brands later, Chipmonks has seen a whopping 281.48% increase in monthly gross sales, a 186.6% increase in monthly orders, and a 21% increase in average order value. 

Even better than Chipmonk’s fantastic results? The relief that comes with thriving instead of surviving. Joseph tells us he’s no longer stressed when Chipmonks has a slower day with few walk-ins or take-out orders. 

Given Joseph’s cursed (COVID-19) introduction to the restaurant industry, we can’t help but celebrate Chipmonk’s fairy-tale ending. When asked what he would say to restaurants thinking about trying virtual restaurant brands, Joseph answers without hesitation: “If you’re looking to earn some extra income, it’s worth a try. Chances are Future Foods will have something that works for your menu, and it’s definitely worth it.”

With a thriving business and the pandemic in the rearview, Joseph is looking forward to warmer months ahead, when Cubs fans will no doubt flock to Chipmonks all summer long. 

Vintage Chipmonks Storeftont

Support Chipmonks Today: 

Visit:📍438 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL, 60614

Order: Chipmonk’s website, Grubhub, DoorDash, Seamless, UberEats

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