“She said, ‘They’re great people. Their food is fantastic. You’ve got to do this,” Tipp says.
Of course there was more on the table than an outstanding concept, of which the fast casual industry isn’t exactly lacking for. In early April, along with the announcement Tipp was joining on, Pincho revealed that it closed a Series A funding round with a group of investors led by entrepreneur and multi-unit franchisee Ned Scherer. The agreement locked in a development deal to bring Pincho to the Washington, D.C. market to the tune of 10 new franchised units over the next five years. This was the concept’s first multi-unit franchise agreement outside of the South Florida market.
A couple of weeks later, Mizes, who spearheaded Blaze Pizza’s expansion from a two-unit concept to more than 200 locations in just four years, and also helped Jamba Juice grow from 40 to 400 stores earlier in his career, announced he joined Pincho’s board of directors. So did Andy Howard, the CEO of chicken fast casual Huey Magoo’s, who also served as CMO of Wingstop when it exploded from 80 to more than 600 units.
Tipp was impressed by the potential and also how far Pincho progressed since its Miami inception in 2010. But like any restaurant concept build from inspiration, Pincho’s past was rooted more in trial-and-error success than tangible analytics and operating procedures. The first year Pincho opened it did about $200,000 in sales. Year 2: $356,000. Now, the brand is averaging $1,000 per square foot in a footprint that ranges from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet.
“It’s hard in this industry to find something as well rounded at such an early stage as Pincho Factory,” Tipp says. “Sometimes you’ll find a concept that has great food, or interesting food, or an interesting spin on something. It might have one great item on the menu, or it might have a really interesting environment, but you usually find one of those things and everything else is lacking. But here the food is fantastic and the brand is really well developed.”
Early on, though, Tipp dipped right into his playbook of experience and started shoring up operations. Food cost. Labor. And also leaning on experience rather than gut instinct to make key decisions.
“I think if you talk to folks who know me in the industry what I think you will hear, and what I think has had an impact on the team and the organization here in a very short period of time, is I’m a very focused, driven, high sense of urgency individual. But it’s all based on information,” Tipp says. “… I think I’ve been able to help this team in a very short period of time identify our priorities, stay focused on our priorities, and drive results into the business.”
Tipp joined Pincho the week it opened its 10th unit. He was at the grand opening and expects to make plenty of similar trips in the near and distant future. In addition to building out the Florida market, which is about as diverse as it comes in America, Pincho is drawing a radius where a nonstop flight can touch down in 3–4 hours, Tipp says. This opens Pincho to plenty of “great markets where we think our brand is going to have strong appeal, and where we’re going to find experienced and capable operators to work with.”