In the Store | January 2014 | By Keith Loria

A New Kind of Prototype

Mama Fu’s to open new takeout, delivery, and catering store.

In an effort to make its food more accessible for customers, Mama Fu’s Asian House is rolling out a new prototype focusing exclusively on takeout, delivery, and catering.

Randy Murphy, CEO of Mama Fu’s Asian House, says the difficulty in finding the perfect 3,000-square-foot retail box or end cap with high visibility is slowing down expansion.

“The last seven to eight years, our off-premise channel has grown. Last year it was at 42 percent, and this year it will be more as we head toward the 50/50 mark,” Murphy says. “We’re finding this very sought-after real estate, yet only half of our customers are sitting down. It was an obvious thing for us to think about how we could design and operate for the franchise partners to increase the development process and speed it up, as well as build something our customer has driven us to.”

The new prototype, which will debut in Mama Fu’s hometown of Austin, Texas, in 2014, is roughly 1,500 square feet with 20–30 seats. Murphy says the reduced size lets the company capitalize on improved unit-level economics from labor, occupancy, and utilities savings. It also offers lower start-up costs.

Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for the NPD Group, believes the decision to invest so much in catering, delivery, and takeout makes sense in today’s quick-serve climate.

“I think this is just another channel to try to grow your business in a market that’s not growing,” she says. “Consumers are still looking for convenience, and the more convenient you can make it, the better you are.”