Despite a year rife with challenges for the restaurant industry, fast-growing franchise MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes announced that 18 of its stores joined the franchise’s Million Dollar Club—a group of restaurants who have pulled in at least $1 million in sales—by the end of 2020.

Among this year’s million-dollar club inductees: three new MOOYAH locations that were in their first twelve months of operation, as well as four existing locations that were able to crack the million-dollar mark for the first time in 2020. Additionally, 25 locations posted year-over-year net sales gains.

“It was interesting to us how many stores grew sales in 2020,” Mike Sebazco, Vice President of Operations says. “We were able to onboard a third-party delivery strategy, implement curbside delivery and make it easier to buy from us. I know a lot of other brands in the industry did not enjoy that level of success.”

Set against the backdrop of pandemic lockdowns and dining room size-restrictions, the stellar performance caps a busy year for the brand. MOOYAH opened seven stores, representing a 10% increase in the number of MOOYAH locations, and completed five full store reimages. In 2020, the brand unveiled its first updated restaurant design, featuring dining room seating zones created to accommodate community dining, dedicated third-party delivery and pickup shelving, closed kitchens, digital menu boards and an overall more modern vibe.

Additionally, 30 percent of new stores were opened by existing franchise owners, attesting to the faith investors have in the brand’s future as evidenced by the leadership team’s all-hands-on-deck approach to franchise support.

“From the beginning of the pandemic my ask was that we stay focused on how best we can support our Franchise Partners,” says Tony Darden, MOOYAH’s president.  “Our owners are the lifeblood of MOOYAH, so being able to show fluidity in our initiative implementation process was paramount.  At the core of this was being steadfast in our conviction that there would be no layoffs amongst the corporate support team, thus alleviating any personal concerns to focus on supporting our franchise owners.”

Not only did the concept experience sales growth, but the brand grew its franchise base, signing five franchise groups who are slated to open 17 new stores. In 2021, the brand has set its sights on opening 15 new restaurants in key markets across the U.S. — including a Midtown, Manhattan location steps from Times Square. An additional 10-unit deal will pepper the Dallas-Fort Worth area with the brand’s newly remodeled look and always fresh taste.

“Not only did we not lose any projects that were on the board, we actually gained a couple,” Sebazco says. “We were able to attract refugees from other brands that weren’t getting support.”

MOOYAH intends to keep the growth fast-tracked through 2021, projecting 12 new signings representing 29 new restaurant locations. The company is targeting expansion in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Atlanta, Richmond and California.

“We have a lot of wind in our sails right now,” says Sebazco. “We have a lot of initiatives that will continue our upward trajectory this year and beyond.”

In addition to building guest excitement with limited-time offers and an improved app that will make ordering easier, the brand plans to roll out more digital menu boards, giving locations the flexibility to dynamically adjust prices and updates.

And going into 2021, MOOYAH will continue the store remodeling programs that started in 2020, providing improved in-store experiences for its guests, planning for 10 existing location remodels. Additionally, guests will also soon have the option to use a kiosk at select stores, with five new locations already signing up for kiosk ordering as an additional point of sale option.

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, News, Mooyah