Mighty Quinn’s is primed for market explosion, co-CEO Micha Magid says.
With a recently announced Series B investment by Bolt Ventures, Mighty Quinn’s will continue expansion of both corporate and franchised units, including ghost kitchens.
After opening its first store in New York in 2012, the chain spent several years developing operating systems and protocols before formalizing them in 2018 with the beginning of its franchise program. Signing several deals in 2019, Mighty Quinn’s came into 2020 with a sizable pipeline ready. Bolt Ventures’ recently announced investment accelerates the growth already underway. Mighty Quinn’s has corporate locations in New York, New Jersey, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden (two units), and one in Dubai with a signed development pipeline for 16 franchises.
“Being able to smoke something for 15-20 hours, but serve it in a matter of minutes I think is a unique proposition,” Magid says. “I think that’s what has allowed us to grow so quickly.”
Bolt Ventures investment associate Tory Palmer says the firm had been searching for a brand that’s uniquely positioned, features a differentiated menu, and has the ability to scale.
“We found that with Mighty Quinn’s and their excellent operating team,” Palmer says. “The brand has the opportunity to grow its corporate store base while also establishing itself in new markets as the go-to spot for consistently great barbecue. Mighty Quinn’s has emerged as one of the strongest restaurant brands in the New York Metro market.”
Mighty Quinn’s intends to focus on market growth along the Eastern Seaboard during its current expansion. After signing a multi-unit franchise agreement with TBBQ Group, the fast casual plans to open its first standalone drive-thru in Tampa Bay, Florida, as part of a deal to open several locations over the next few years.
Drive-thru makes sense as a next step, Magid says, because Mighty Quinn’s meat is smoked for hours, and food is near completion when customers place orders. COVID also proved how vital the channel was. Drive-thru went from increasing orders 4 percent in January 2020 to growing them 22 percent in December, according to The NPD Group.
“If you think about Florida up to the coast to our home based in New York Metro, there’s amazing areas with population density, lack of great barbecue, just a huge whitespace opportunity for us to open,” Magid says.
Franchisees undergo an elaborate training program, Magid says, where they and their teams learn the smoking process on-site and learn service in the restaurant. An opening team supports the franchisees to ensure the brand is well-represented and franchisees are supported with the tools to execute.
When looking for operators, Mighty Quinn’s seeks hospitality and restaurant experience, but passion is the biggest factor at the end of the day.
“That passion for basically nurturing a brand, almost as if it’s a startup. It’s their own company startup, right? We want that mindset,” Magid says.
Corporate expansion will primarily take place close to the New York Metro area while franchisees develop up and down the coast. Mighty Quinn’s expects to open its seventh corporate unit in Hoboken, New Jersey, and will have around five franchises open by next summer. Magid says the brand will likely maintain a roughly 60/40 split between company-owned and franchise stores.
The brand’s operating model incorporates the ability to leverage ghost kitchens, as well. Multi-unit operators who want to centralize production and smoking at one location can then open satellite locations without worrying about having a pitmaster in every store. This capability enables Mighty Quinn’s to enter real estate that otherwise wouldn’t have been available for a barbecue concept.
The labor shortage won’t affect Might Quinn’s progress either. Magid says restaurants feature a more streamlined labor model that doesn’t require as many workers.
Mighty Quinn’s fared well during the pandemic since it set up digital ordering channels in 2016. Entering mandatory lockdowns, it was easy to shift the business, Magid says, and quarterly store sales held up “remarkably well.” The CEO believes the huge channel shift will remain for the most part. Off-premises consumption and eating outside the restaurant is higher than it was prior to 2020, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
The barbecue fast casual expects to capitalize on that industrywide transformation.
“We really set out in the beginning to just bring great barbecue to New York,” Magid says. “Now we have aspirations to really cement Mighty Quinn’s as the go-to barbecue place, not only in our hometown of New York, but really in markets all over the country.”