Anil Dossani’s family was not surprised when in his 20s, he began franchising with Steak & Shake. They inspired him to do so.
He was raised by parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan and worked their way up through the restaurant structure. The day Dossani was born, his father was delivering pizzas for Domino’s, and as he grew up, he watched his father transform into a multi-unit operator.
“The restaurant industry was a second-chance opportunity [for my parents],” Dossani says. “It’s always been a part of my life.”
While living in Atlanta, Dossani was drawn to a different brand—Captain D’s. The seafood kitchen’s presence in Georgia and its franchise support system were strong. He was also attracted to the high-quality products and operations processes.
“Here’s a brand that has over 500 units, in which they operate more than half of those,” Dossani explains. “It was great to see they know what they’re doing … They support not just their franchisees but also their own stores.”
Dossani took the plunge and now operates five Captain D's throughout Atlanta after officially joining the company in 2018. At 33 years old, the company described the operator as "already one of the most successful franchisees in the Captain D’s system."
His first two units in Acworth and Norcross feature a traditional dining-room setting. Dossani's third is a 960-square-foot Express prototype in South Fulton with drive-thru and walk-up service only. The design comes with a streamlined selection of core menu items and a kitchen made for quicker cook times.
The fourth location is a converted Dunkin’ in Marietta, and his fifth will be the first Captain D's in-line with a convenience store, based in Ellenwood. Altogether, he will soon operate every prototype the brand offers.
Dossani has noticed areas with an older demographic still preferring his Acworth and Norcross dining rooms even though the converted Marietta location is five miles away and technologically streamlined.
He says the express model is better for newer markets, where customers are less likely to expect a sit-down experience.
“In certain markets, [the express prototype] is a way to get your foot in the door and test the waters without spending millions on land and building,” Dossani explains.
Dossani is not afraid to get creative with his operations. Among his five different models, he says each one fits into a different operational category.
At 100 seats, the Acworth Captain D’s caters to a family-friendly crowd. This is driven by the dining-room experience and keeping attendants ready with sauces and drinks to pass around. Norcross’s dining room only has 44 seats and is typically only busy at lunch, so the aim is speed of service.
The converted Marietta store is a hybrid with a smaller dining room equipped with sauce and drink stations for guests, but staff routinely checks on customers.
The Express restaurant has a different operational process due to its drive-thru and walk-up service. The unit is closer to the highway and airport, so there is a greater focus on getting cars through the line.
Dossani is using his knowledge in the convenience store business to prepare his newest Captain D’s location, which will debut later this summer. His family operates several C-stores, and he recognized the advantages of mixing the two.
“Both convenience stores and restaurants rely on foot traffic, so combining them makes sense to us,” Dossani says. “We want to explore this option with our experience in both types of businesses.”
Perfecting operations has become Dossani’s main goal rather than expanding outside his Atlanta territory. With a constantly shifting economy and workforce, he prefers geographically strategic growth.
“Every day is a learning curve to figure out the best approach for our prototypes,” Dossani says. “We are equipped to take on new challenges but want to keep our operations intact.”
When he does expand in the future, Dossani is open to conversions, new builds, and in-line units. Nothing is off the table, but one thing is sure—he is happy to stay within Captain D’s franchise network.
“They know even more than us about operations,” Dossani says. “It gives us a feeling of security, whereas some franchisors are getting themselves out of the operational side of things. “We’ve been lucky to be with a brand focused on growing franchisees and their stores.”
Captain D's ended 2022 with 533 restaurants, including 224 franchises and 309 company-owned units. It earned $552.6 million in U.S. systemwide sales and $1.08 million in AUV. It is the third-largest seafood chain in the U.S., behind Red Lobster and Long John Silver's.