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For some brands, opening four stores in one week is no big deal. But for Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, a Dallas-based chain that was founded in 2003 and franchised in 2005, four stores in one week is a sign of its explosive growth.
The last of the four stores to open this week was the 121st for Which Wich, which plans to open another five units before the year is over. This week’s openings included new stores in Snellville, Georgia; Georgetown, Texas; Denver; and Houston.
Jeff Vickers, vice president of development for Which Wich, says the brand’s growth is a testament to its strong franchisees, many of whom have extensive restaurant experience.
“We’ve been very careful since the concept’s inception of ensuring we’re bringing on the right people,” he says. “The majority of the growth has come from within; all of our franchisees are multiunit owners.”
Earlier this year, Which Wich was named the No. 1 fastest-growing chain restaurant by Chain Store Guide. The company grew 836.4 percent over the last five years, according to the report.
Vickers says the recession did not slow down Which Wich’s growth. Part of that reason, he says, is that the company did not get mired in the financing woes that slowed the growth of many other brands.
“Our franchisees are very strong financially,” Vickers says. “That’s attributed to the majority of our success in getting these stores open quickly. We’ve been fortunate enough to build out of pocket, and not have to rely on lending.”
Which Wich is positioned to maintain its fast growth in 2011, Vickers says. The company is signed on to open stores in Orlando, Florida; Washington, D.C.; San Jose, California; Salt Lake City; Cleveland; and Alabama.
But Vickers says the growth of the company isn’t just a matter of how many stores it can open.
“We haven’t advertised the brand from a sales perspective,” he says. “For us, it’s not about numbers, it’s about ensuring that we’re partnering with the right people and being first in the best location. We’re not going to open a new site just to fulfill a number obligation. A lot of times, people get focused on the numbers and not on the task at hand.”
By Sam Oches