Industry News | February 11, 2008

First Watch Expands Brand

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Investors exploring the restaurant industry will have an opportunity in the daytime café space now that First Watch, the Florida-based leader in the breakfast-brunch-and-lunch industry, announced today in conjunction with the International Franchise Association Convention in Orlando that it will sell key regional franchises in 35 states in 2008.

“We believe that First Watch represents a unique franchise opportunity,” says Kenneth Pendery, CEO of First Watch Restaurants Inc. “The breakfast part of the day continues to experience tremendous growth, and, more than ever, consumers are seeking freshly prepared food, unique and bold flavors and healthier offerings. We’ve been able to develop a loyal following by offering those very things for nearly 25 years.”

First Watch had sales of about $72 million in 2007 from existing restaurants and an impressive 24 consecutive years of same-store sales increases, Pendery said. The company opened 10 new company-owned restaurants last year in markets that included St. Louis, Cincinnati, suburban Baltimore, western Pennsylvania and central, southwest and southeast Florida.

Since its inception in 1983, First Watch has become one of the largest privately held daytime-only restaurants in the U.S., with restaurants in 11 states. During 2008 and beyond, the company will expand by opening successful franchise restaurants in both existing and new markets throughout the continental U.S.

According to Pendery, part of the business appeal of purchasing a First Watch multiunit franchise agreement is the extensive training and support program put in place for franchisees and investors behind the scenes. In addition to 10-week training courses conducted at certified First Watch training restaurants, the company also will work with each franchisee to determine the development area, potential market and number of restaurants, and then provide on-site support during each restaurant’s pre-opening and opening.

“First Watch has been successful because we maintain a quality and consistent experience in all of our restaurants,” says Pendery. “We view franchising as a way to strengthen our brand presence nationally.”