Fresh To Order pioneered a unique niche in the fast-casual segment when its first location opened in Atlanta in 2006—the niche of “fast-fine.” CEO and founder Pierre Panos saw an underserved demand for nutritious, affordable, gourmet-quality food served in minimum time, and designed a concept that would specifically cater to that need. Since then, Fresh To Order has expanded to include 15 stores across the southeastern U.S., with another 30 stores in development.
“We are an emerging brand,” Panos says. “To guests, we stand out because our food is better-quality and better-tasting, similar to fine-dining restaurants, but still affordable. To operators, we stand out because our menu is chef-driven, but line cook-executable. We have a simple platform. To investors, our outstanding operating performance metrics set us apart. In 2014, the average unit volume for Fresh To Order restaurants was approaching the $2 million mark, and our sales-to-investment ratio was roughly 2.5-to-1.”
This year, Fresh To Order continues its growth trajectory. The company is looking for new franchisees ready to become multi-unit operators in the southeastern U.S. It is also planning to expand north to Philadelphia and the Indianapolis area, and west to Houston and Austin. Development is already in motion in select cities in the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and several southern states.
New franchisees should have a minimum of $500,000 in liquid assets, and a net worth of $1 million. They often enter the system in partnerships, with at least one investor partner as well as an operations partner. Franchise entities should have a combined five years of restaurant operations experience, as well as business management experience with P&L responsibility. The operating partner of the entity must also reside in the market area in which his or her Fresh To Order stores will open.
Training is extensive for the operating partner and his or her staff of managers, involving classroom time as well working in one of Fresh To Order’s corporate stores in the Atlanta area. An abbreviated training program is available to the strategic investor partner. A specialized corporate team assists with the opening of every new Fresh To Order location, and stays on hand for approximately five weeks, or until the trainers are confident the new store meets or exceeds the brand’s standards of operational excellence.
As for real estate, Fresh To Order is looking for locations between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet in a central business district, urban commercial, and suburban areas with strong daytime, evening, and weekend populations. Ideally, the location should be a high-visibility endcap with patio space, although inline locations will be considered if they have distinguishing architectural features and exceptionally strong co-tenants, and are located in a high-density trade area.
For more information about franchising opportunities with Fresh To Order, visit www.freshtoorder.com
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