From television shows to cookbooks and restaurants, Bobby Flay’s name has become an international brand.
His latest venture comes in the form of Bobby’s Burgers, which he co-founded with business partner Laurence Kretchmer. The young, four-unit fast casual is now embarking on a franchising effort to bring the better burger brand to more markets and customers.
“The concept is at a place where it’s ready and well-positioned to scale,” Kretchmer says.
The chain is currently based in four high-profile settings—Harrah’s, Caesars Palace, and the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, and Yankee Stadium in New York. The locations are indicative of the restaurant’s desire to provide top-notch experiences in a memorable setting.
Kretchmer, who is also a managing partner, says the team intentionally opened the first set of Bobby’s restaurants in two of the busiest U.S. dining markets. The company wanted to ensured it could operate in hectic environments prior to franchising. It also gave Bobby’s the opportunity to observe how customers interacted with the brand in different settings, like casinos and stadiums.
The chain will partner with franchisees who have proven track records of operating successful, top-quality concepts and can execute at the highest level.
“We’ve always focused on quality over quantity,” Kretchmer says. “We’re focused on awarding opportunities to seasoned, multi-unit operators who really understand the industry, but also have the entrepreneurial spirit to be part of the growth of a new brand … someone who shares our sensibilities about the importance of quality, execution, and consistency.”
The restaurant will offer operators a menu that’s fairly easy to produce. Bobby’s features seven burgers, two sandwiches, several sides, and five milkshakes. The slimmer menu will help potential franchisees maintain profitability and similar experiences at each location, Kretchmer explains.
“Standards are critical,” he says. “We’re execution maniacs. After coming up with an idea, we do everything we can to make sure it’s trainable and retrainable … if it’s not great, we’re not serving it. It has to be great.”
The Paris Hotel store serves breakfast items, but Kretchmer doesn’t expect that to be commonplace in future franchised outlets—only where the company deems appropriate.
“Maybe certain downtown locations, high-traffic locations,” he says. “When we open in an airport, you can better believe we’ll have breakfast.”
“We’re focused on creating a great experience with delicious food and great hospitality every single time,” says Laurence Kretchmer, cofounder and managing partner of Bobby’s Burgers.
The restaurant’s ambition to be the best is exemplified by its to-go packaging for handheld items like the signature Crunchburger, which is topped with American cheese, potato chips, and Bobby’s sauce.
The team recently spent hours examining the existing iteration, looking for slight ways to improve the design. With convenience at top of mind, the group considered how easy it is for consumers to take the burger from the box and also how quickly the item can be placed inside the packaging without affecting presentation.
“Every little aspect of that is really important … because we think about how can we make this easier to do it great over and over again,” Kretchmer says. “The only thing we’re thinking about is how we can improve the guests experience.”
Bobby’s is targeting major metro markets like Charlotte, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Overseas may be in play, as well, with the brand leveraging Flay’s international fame.
“The region is important, but it certainly doesn’t come ahead of the quality of the operator,” Kretchmer says. “That is really the most important thing to us.”
Bobby’s can be designed to run as a quick-service or fast-casual concept, depending on real estate. Nontraditional, inline, endcap, and freestanding options are all available.
While the type of buildout will vary, one constant will be each store’s modernized approach. Kretchmer says waiting to franchise gave Bobby’s the ability to understand how consumer preferences are changing, especially through the pandemic.
This means dedicated spaces for pick up orders, drive-thru, and an upcoming loyalty program aimed at membership perks and fewer points of friction.
“Everything is in development, but we have a lot of stuff going on,” he says. “We’re very mindful of how the playing field has changed.”
“We’re in a pretty enviable position because we don’t have any of that old stuff that needs to be kicked to the curb,” he adds. “We get to start fresh, and we’re so excited about all aspects of development.”
Kretchmer prefers not to give an exact number in terms of expansion goals, emphasizing the most important factor is the quality of the franchise partner. Bobby’s is interested in what he calls controlled growth.
“We don’t want to get over our skis,” he says. “We’re going to be really thoughtful and deliberate about the way we grow.”
Whether it’s at a shopping center, in an airport, or on the Vegas strip, consistency is key. That’s what Kretchmer says separates a good concept from one with staying power.
“We’re focused on creating a great experience with delicious food and great hospitality every single time,” he says.