Fabio Viviani has kept busy since his run on Top Chef. While the fan-favorite contestant of the cooking competition’s fifth season didn’t take home the top prize (he came in fourth), his post-show career could certainly be considered a winner. He has since launched a long list of successful restaurants, including fine-dining establishments, airport-based eateries, casino restaurants, and quick-casual locations all across the U.S. 

Early last year, the Italian-born chef debuted his latest culinary venture: JARS by Fabio Viviani, a quick-serve restaurant concept that centers on desserts made to order with cakes, cookies, creams, custards, and other sweet ingredients. Each single-serve treat is served in a clear jar, the better to see the tempting ingredients layered inside. Viviani explains the idea for JARS came during the pandemic, as the world saw the restaurant industry struggle with a whole host of challenges.

“JARS was borne out of the need to have a better approach to a segment of the market, which is hospitality, after the pandemic,” Viviani explains. “COVID hit operators and workers in the industry very hard, and JARS helped solve the problem from a business perspective.”

Viviani relates that in addition to the relatively low franchise entry fee, the cost of operation is also modest, thanks to the simple model. Materials and ingredients used to assemble the desserts come in ready to go from the home base, the individual products can be quickly assembled to order. While the list of menu-listed and custom-made items is nearly endless, the products require a relatively small stable of items to craft, meaning each restaurant can be run with only one or two employees. 

“It's basically a high-quality assembly line for some of the greatest desserts you've ever had,” Viviani remarks. “But as the corporate national purveyors, we do the baking, we do the seasoning, we do the proofing, so the product is always consistent, and the entire headache of operations has been taken away from the operators because there is nothing to cook.”

The first JARS location opened in early 2023 in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood—coincidentally, just a short walk from The Girl and the Goat, a restaurant opened by another Top Chef alum and season four winner Stephanie Izard. However, the Windy City outpost of the chain is just the beginning—according to Viviani, JARS has 100 more locations in the works, set to open in the coming months.

JARS by Fabio Vivani“The concept has been embraced great because anyone that has ever had experience in the food business sees the JARS business model—no labor, no kitchen, no cooking, no headaches, nothing—and sees low entropy, high visual appeal, and high marketability. It's an easy switch.”

While Viviani has become widely known as a chef and entrepreneur for sumptuous, savory meals that combine elegance and accessibility—often with an Italian flair that pays homage to his home country—the JARS concept isn’t his first walk on the sweet side. His roster of restaurants includes other sugar-centric spots: Bombobar, a Chicago spot offering gelatos and Italian doughnuts called bombolini; and Sweet Things, a patisserie offering a stunning array of sweets in California’s Morongo casino and resorts. It makes sense, considering crafting sweets and baked goods is a field he has been immersed in since he was a bambino.

“My very first job, when I was 11 years old, was working for a baker. My very first work, and my very first experience with the restaurant business, was at a bake shop. Considering that JARS will probably be the last big company I’ll ever launch, it’s come full circle.”

Related: Voodoo Doughnut opens its first Illinois location in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood