Famous Toastery plans to double its footprint to reach 50 stores by 2024. / Photo courtesy of Famous Toastery
About two years before the pandemic hit, one of the fastest growing small restaurants in the United States stopped taking calls from potential operators.
Selling franchises, Famous Toastery realized, had become dangerously easy.
“Selling franchises is very, very easy. Too easy, ”CEO and founder Robert Maynard said in an interview with Restaurant Business. “Getting them to succeed is a whole different matter. That’s why we took a step back.
Back then, Maynard said, people thought he was crazy. Founded in 2005 in Huntersville, North Carolina, Famous Toastery had grown into one of the hottest young brands in the industry. It has been included in the annual Restaurant Business ranking of the fastest growing small chains three years in a row and has won several other accolades recognizing it as one of the best restaurant franchises. In 2019, it had 27 locations and chain-wide sales of around $ 40 million, according to RB’s sister company Technomic.
But behind the growth was a system that had dispersed. Taking a step back “turned out to be the best thing we’ve ever done,” Maynard said.
The company focused on its existing franchisees and learned the characteristics of a good operator of famous Toastery. By the time the pandemic arrived, the chain was doing better than ever, Maynard said. Operations had improved and unit volumes and profits were at record levels. This helped Famous Toastery weather the crisis, despite its profile as a sit-down breakfast and lunch concept in an environment that favored fast food.
Its momentum continued as the pandemic abated. “We are seeing a lot more stores getting closer to this [$2 million average unit volume] mark or blasting through this mark 2 than ever before, ”said Maynard.
Armed with a more systematic growth strategy and a “secret sauce” for operations, the company is poised to return to franchising. It opened three restaurants and its first ghost kitchen in 2020 and plans to double its footprint to 50 locations by 2024.
“It was just the time, the time to say that we are ready to seize this opportunity and grow,” said Maynard.
Famous Toastery works both with existing franchisees who wish to open a second or third store as well as with new ones. It currently operates in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. It will continue to grow in these locations as well as the adjacent states of Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
And this time around, he will be more selective when it comes to recruiting franchisees. Its restaurants are not easy to manage: all the food, right down to the dressing, is prepared on site and aims for ticket times of four to six minutes, i.e. super-fast for a restaurant concept. relaxed.
“We don’t sell BS. We tell you it’s not an easy business, ”Maynard said. “If your goal is to leave the store in three months… you’re talking to the wrong people. ”
He noted that labor and cost inflation have made it difficult to replicate its standards in new restaurants, leading to new openings next year. In general, the second wave of chain growth will be more measured than the first.
“We’re not looking to sell, sell, sell because we know how easy it is,” Maynard said. “You kind of have a responsibility to make people understand how it all works.
“I’d rather never sell a franchise again than sell it to the wrong person. “
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