Industry News | May 10, 2006

'Blondie' Creator Launches Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes

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Dean Young, the creative force behind the "Blondie" comic strip, announced today that he and Lamar Berry, a veteran quick-food franchising expert from New Orleans, have launched Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes, a new business that draws on expertise of the world's most famous sandwich maker.

Dagwood built his first culinary skyscraper in April 1936, and since then his name has come to mean sandwich, declared so in Webster's New World Dictionary.

Young has been the creator of "Blondie" since 1973 when his father and the strip's originator, Chic Young, died. He and Berry announced plans for the restaurant franchise company at a news conference in Dagwood's Top Secret Test Kitchen on Poydras Street in the heart of the New Orleans central business district.

"This is a dream come true for me and Dagwood," Young said.

Market Partnerships for Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes have already been reserved in Louisiana, Florida and the Philippines. The first shop will open in the Tampa Bay area in Florida, near Young's home and studio in Clearwater Beach, Fla. By the end of 2006, the company expects to have sold 35 Market Partner territories and that the first 12 to 15 training stores will be open.

With a New Orleans chef and chief executive officer, Dagwood's has been nurtured by the city's expertise in food and franchising. The company's international headquarters, research and development functions are in New Orleans including Dagwood's Top Secret Test Kitchen, where recipes are created and polished. The company has its national headquarters in Clearwater.

"We were committed to New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, and we remain committed to the city as it rebuilds," Young said as he and Berry announced plans to offer restaurant franchises to investors around the country. "Although there will be Dagwood's franchises all over the country, the heart and soul of this enterprise will always be in New Orleans."

At the news conference, Oliver Thomas, president of the New Orleans City Council, made Dagwood Bumstead -- and Dean and Charlotte Young -- official residents of New Orleans because of their love of food and their willingness to help build business in New Orleans.

Young's "Blondie" comic strip appears in 2,300 newspapers and reaches an estimated 280 million readers daily in 55 countries. For 75 years, Blondie's husband, Dagwood Bumstead, has been creating gigantic sandwiches with a host of fabulous ingredients that are so well-known that "Dagwood" -- defined as a multi-layered sandwich -- is even included in Webster's New World Dictionary. Dagwood Bumstead's -- and Dean Young's -- love of food inspired the menu offerings of Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes.

Young and Executive Chef Geoffrey Rhode, a New Orleans culinary expert who has worked with some of the city's most famous restaurateurs, worked together to develop the menu of sandwiches and salads, some of which are directly influenced by well-known New Orleans foods and ingredients.

"We anticipate that Dagwood's will offer the best and tastiest sandwiches available in the quick-food market niche," said Berry.

High-quality food, the desire of the baby boomer generation for better tasting, more healthful foods, the simplicity of the sandwich shop franchise operation and a comparatively low cost of entry will make Dagwood's Sandwich Shoppes a successful business venture, Berry said.

"There is a perfect demographic overlap between the typical heavy sandwich consumer and Blondie's readership," Berry said. "We think that this business category can more than double its present size as the baby boomers continue to move into heavy sandwich consumption."

According to Technomic Inc., a market research firm specializing in the restaurant industry, the sandwich sector has become the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry. Between 2000 and 2003, sandwiches accounted for two-thirds of the growth among limited-service restaurants, and between 2003 and 2005, the sandwich segment increased 17 percent. Research also shows that sandwiches are growing 143 percent faster than the entire restaurant category, 229 percent faster than pizza and 1,600 percent faster than chicken.

As a restaurant franchise company, Dagwood's has divided the country into around 100 market territories that are being offered for sale for between $200,000 and $300,000 each to Market Partners. The Market Partners will then sell Dagwood's franchises to individuals who actually will own and operate the sandwich shops. The Market Partners also will provide extensive ongoing operational and marketing support to their franchisees, and they will share in all contract fees and royalty streams.