From the pages of Restaurant Franchising
The Vermont-based bakery café is looking for franchisees as it expands.

Bruegger's franchise

After a milestone year, Bruegger’s is again gearing up to grow.

The Burlington, Vermont–based bakery-café chain celebrated its 25th year in 2008 and enters 2009 riding 19 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. With a presence in 23 states and the District of Columbia, Bruegger’s currently has 289 bakeries and plans to grow its franchise bakery count by 17 percent this year.

“Our sales are growing and new bakery openings continue at Bruegger’s in a fairly tough economy,” says Chris Cheek, vice president of franchise development.

After signing 46 new franchise commitments last year, including area-development agreements in large retail markets such as Manhattan and Chicago, Bruegger’s hopes to continue its expansion. By the end of 2011, the company hopes to hit the 400-unit mark.

“Our anticipation is controlled growth,” Cheek says. “While we often look to take advantage of growth in regions of the country where we have some brand awareness, we are a national company and can support franchisees wherever they may be. We’re looking to identify the best franchisees and marry them up with the best locations.”

Bruegger’s offers flexibility in its bakery design, with traditional locations from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet and scaled-down bakeries as small as 600 square feet for airports, hospitals, and office buildings. In the past few years, Bruegger’s has also had success in securing bakery locations in 3 international airports. In addition to boiled, hearth-baked bagels, its menu also includes salads, soups, and sandwiches. Sales are almost evenly distributed between the breakfast and lunch dayparts.

Compared with its competitors in the fast-casual bakery-cafe category, Bruegger’s has lower startup costs for franchisees. Candidates should have at least $100,000 in liquid assets and a total investment of $200,000 per bakery. An entrepreneurial spirit, a willingness to open multiple units, and restaurant experience are also required.

“Retail is detail, and they really have to understand that piece of it,” Cheek says.

Those who qualify will join a 25-year-old brand with 16 years of franchise experience and a simple operating system. Bruegger’s bakeries have no grease or fryers and offer a work day that ends in the late afternoon.

“We offer a great quality of life for a franchise candidate,” Cheek says.

Bruegger’s bakeries have no grease or fryers and offer a work day that ends in the late afternoon.

To help franchisees obtain financing, the company has fostered relationships with a number of traditional and SBA lenders that have pre-approved the brand. An experienced real estate support team assists with site selection, and the brand’s in-house construction management is priced competitively with any third-party provider.

“We’re very involved in trying to do the best we can to ensure our franchisees open the best locations for a fair price,” Cheek says.

Bruegger’s franchise operations division provides five to seven weeks of new bakery training for general managers, and a series of pre-opening calls ensures new franchisees stay on schedule. Regionally based franchise operations consultants continue to provide support after opening, and a dedicated marketing team helps build awareness in the local community.

For more information about franchising opportunities with Bruegger’s, visit