Gordon has much confidence in the initial round of expansion, which will mostly consist of company-owned units around the Dallas-Forth Worth market.
It’s the home base and the type of expansion Dillas has leveraged for the past nine years. Additionally, because of the chain’s solid banking relationship, the company would have made it through this stretch even if Gala Capital didn’t invest. Dillas also implemented Entrepreneur Operating System, a comprehensive toolbox of organizational solutions, and Gordon stepped away from operations to spend more time on brand vision and managing profitability, scale, and capital.
“It's a confluence of different factors that happened in 2021—topline sales growth, more profitability, got the people plan put together, implemented [Entrepreneur Operating System],” Gordon says. “So we're all aligned and gaining traction with our accountabilities, week to week, month to month. That coupled with a great banking relationship, where we could finance the new projects, all came together and that's how we got to where we are.”
The real concern comes with later stages of expansion, which will shift to franchising. Gala Capital, a current franchisee of Famous Dave’s and the franchisor of MOOYAH and Cicis, intends to ease that anxiety and teach Gordon’s team how to properly keep control of the brand and pick the right partners.
The franchising foundation—people, infrastructure, intranet, and systems—already exists, Gordon says. Now, the Dillas team is working through constructing the FDD and formulating the processes of connecting operators to the proper real estate, prototype, and equipment package, and building vendor relationships into something that can handle 20-30 openings per year.
“We’ll need to rely on Gala Capital to help connect some of those dots as we grow and scale and add new people to the system,” Gordon says. “I'm very thankful for the guidance so far.”
Granted, Gordon isn’t completely unfamiliar with the franchisor-franchisee structure. Dillas has a joint venture partnership with Primeaux Restaurant Group, a company that runs three restaurants in Shreveport, Louisiana. That business will convert to a franchise and maintain control over a sliver of East Texas and all of Louisiana.
If a new franchise partner were to join the brand, it wouldn’t be until the back half of 2023 or early 2024. Dillas is searching for potential operators in Oklahoma and Waco to build outward concentric circles from the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
“It’s so we can really support [franchises] in a strong operational way until we get enough scale and size to expand our reach and then go into different states and further into Texas,” Gordon says. “I'm more scared about going into Houston or Austin than I am Oklahoma City, a different state, just because of proximity and the scale and size of those DMAs.”