It’s one of multiple models Smokin’ Oak is offering franchisees. The first is the 2,000-square-foot core prototype, which seats 58 customers and features an open kitchen allowing anyone to see employees cook pizzas. These would ideally be endcap locations with space for a patio and parking for curbside pickup.
The restaurant+taproom is about 3,000-4,000 square feet, providing room for more tables, a lounge-type area, and of course, the taproom itself. The estimated investment to open a restaurant is $254,000-$682,800, but taprooms add $90,000-$180,000, depending on the number of taps.
“I would say more often than not, we don't lead a candidate to opening a taproom. Candidates tend to lead themselves,” Mongoven says. “So they are in the restaurant, they're seeing the taproom during the Discovery Day, they're seeing guests use it while the restaurant is open, and they're seeing the environment that's been created in one of our taproom locations. And they can really see how that can translate to their own community and the potential takeup rate by people living in their markets.”
Smokin’ Oak also launched a mobile pizza truck and a takeout/delivery concept as supplemental opportunities. The off-premises-only restaurant requires 600-800 square feet, and customers would order online via the website, call ahead, or use a third-party delivery platform. The model was created in 2020 when the fast casual saw its business shift dramatically, particularly with delivery.
Mongoven envisions an area developer opening three to four locations in a market, with a couple of taprooms, a core concept store, and a takeout/delivery unit tacked onto the operation.
“I think what we found over the last couple of years is customers want more choice in how they order, and they also have more choice in how their food is delivered to them,” he says. “So in addition to having a great dine-in experience and a great takeout experience, adding curbside and third-party delivery, those are just part of our model.”
Smokin Oak’s long-term goal is to reach 100 restaurants by 2027, and it plans to achieve that by partnering with the best multi-unit operators in a given market. The chain’s website lists Atlanta, Houston, Nashville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Des Moines, San Antonio, Boston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis as some of the most viable trade areas.
“We know that our guests have a choice in where they're spending their money, and we're just so grateful when they choose to spend it with us,” Mongoven says. “Especially with inflation going up, the price of gas going up, et cetera. Everyone is watching what they're spending, and I think for us, we can look at the price point that we have and be really proud of the fact that you can get a wood-fired pizza for $10.95. That's a fantastic value, and it's really built for a price point where people can still go out and get a great quality product for a fair price.”