Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
Hale & Hearty Soups opened a few months before The Soup Nazi made his first appearance on NBC’s Seinfeld. Since then New York City has seen many soup restaurants come and go or struggle to survive, but Hale & Hearty Soups has been profitable almost from the start. Serving 15 to 20 scratch-made soups daily since July 1995, Hale & Hearty has developed a repertoire of more than 120 soups, has grown to 20 stores, and is expanding beyond the city.
“We’ve had so many people come in or email us and say, ‘Would you please open a store in X,’” says owner Simon Jacobs. “It’s fascinating that there is interest in cities all over the U.S., but I want to see how well we’re received just outside the city, then we plan to open a lot more.”
The 20th store, scheduled to open this month in Livingston, New Jersey, is Hale & Hearty’s first location outside of New York City. “I spent a lot of time driving around earmarking towns I’d like to try. Livingston was one of them. If we can make it work there, then it should work just about anywhere,” Jacobs says.
Jacobs believes Hale & Hearty’s focus on quality ingredients and scratch-made soup stocks give it the staying power of a national brand. “For example, instead of using frozen corn, we start with fresh corn, on the cob and in the husks,” he says.
Hale & Hearty’s original owners, Andrew and Jonathan Schnipper rectified a lull in summer business early on by adding made-to-order sandwiches and salads with scratch-made dressings. “The business has been profitable year-round since 1997,” Jacobs says.
Jacobs joined the Schnippers as an investor in 2000 and bought them out in 2005. “I saw the potential of making a good business a really great business,” he says. He hired a new executive chef to replace Jonathan Schnipper, who developed more than 70 soup recipes. “We’ve launched 25 new soups since last September—almost one a week,” Jacobs says.