Franchising | September 2011 | By Mary Avant
340 Years of History
Jake’s Wayback Burgers
Old-Fashioned Done Right
Jake’s may be the youngest brand on our anniversary list this year, but its mindset is decidedly old school.
“We wanted to go back in time to where the burgers were just being introduced to the United States—back to the turn of the century when people experienced ground beef for the first time,” says John Eucalitto, president of the premium-burger chain.
Along with a name change came a whole new design, featuring a classic look of red barn-board interiors with white and stainless steel accents. “We’re just the middle-of-the-road concept,” Eucalitto says. “We see ourselves as being the concept in small-town America, and that’s what we like to be.”
In fact, Jake’s finds itself in many small towns, such as Torrington, Connecticut, and Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and plans to continue popping up as the “hometown favorite” all across the country.
Growing from a single unit on Route 273 in Delaware to 12 units in 2009, Jake’s plans to have 70 stores open by year’s end.
For Jake’s customers, the appeal lies in the creative products it’s become famous for, like the Turkey Dinner (a turkey burger with stuffing and cranberry sauce), Cotton Candy milkshakes, and the Grilled Chicken Club on pretzel bread.
“We’re going to be a little quirky. We’re going to be a little different,” Eucalitto says. “We’re not a normal brand.”
The King of Culture
When you call the Pizza Patrón corporate office, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with a cheery “Buenos diás!” That’s because the 100-unit Texas-based pizza chain caters specifically to Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.
“Our brand is geared entirely toward serving the Hispanic community, and so that dictates where we locate stores, how we staff our stores, how we advertise,” says Andrew Gamm, director of brand development.
Pizza Patrón, founded by Wingstop founder Antonio Swad, celebrated its aniversario de plata (silver anniversary) by partnering with Pepsi to give away Lindros collectors’ bottles. They were popular in Mexico in the ’80s and ’90s and bear the image of Cantinflas, a Mexican movie icon.
“It’s the type of promotion we like to do because it’s very cultural and it reinforces who we are in the marketplace,” Gamm says.
The company also introduced scratch cards to give consumers a chance to win home theater systems, DVDs, and additional Lindros bottles.
Although a relatively young brand, Pizza Patrón has been through several prototype changes in its time. Starting as a carryout-only model, it transitioned to a 600–800-square-foot mall/airport concept in 2004 (known as the Rapidito model). A year later, it added its first dine-in store, and a drive-thru model (known as “QSP”—Quick Service Pizza) followed in 2006.
The brand caught international attention in 2007 when it began accepting pesos at its stores, gaining 500 million media impressions worth $30 million in advertising in the U.S. alone.
Gamm says Pizza Patrón is well positioned, thanks to the growth of the Hispanic community in the U.S.
“I feel in many ways that Pizza Patrón is the right concept at the right time,” he says. “That makes our business a very good one and makes for a very bright future for us.”
500 and Counting
On June 7, 2011, Bojangles’ opened the doors on its 500th store, located in Surf City, North Carolina. For the chicken ’n biscuits chain that started as a small Carolina brand, hitting the 500-store milestone is “a validation,” says Eric Newman, executive vice president of Bojangles’ Restaurants.
“Bojangles’ has proven itself over 35 years and over 500 operating restaurants with almost $800 million in systems sales and historical sales of more than $10 billion,” Newman says.
Opening a store at the pace of one every nine days, Bojangles’ has been one of the fastest-growing quick-serve brands over the past several years. “We intend not only to continue what we’ve been doing, but to add layers of growth to that,” Newman says. “We have a large group of new prospective franchisees that we’re talking to. In fact, there seems to be pent-up demand.”
The company has a presence in 10 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and was recently bought by Boston-based private-equity group Advent International, which has
experience with retail brands.
“I would certainly think and hope that 35 years from now,” Newman says, “you would see a national and international brand thriving by every measure.”
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