“It absolutely is not a sinking ship,” says Raving Brands President Daryl Dollinger. “Of the three brands that we have left, they are in high-growth mode.” Monkey Joe’s, with 32 units, Flying Biscuit, with 8 units, and Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken, with 7 units, remain with the company.
Despite earlier plans to take the Shane’s brand national (500 stores by 2010), Ravings Brands maintains that newly formed Petrus Brands Inc is better suited to grow the concept.
“After the exit of a lot of the executives at Raving, LaMastra included, we realized that we wanted to focus on some of the smaller concepts like Monkey Joes,” Dollinger says.
Heading Atlanta-based Petrus Brands will be former Raving Chief Development Officer Chris Morocco, who hopes to grow Planet Smoothie and Shane’s with the help of investment firm Edmonds Capital. Morocco will no longer have a leadership role at Raving Brands.
As capital becomes more difficult to come by, Dollinger’s focus on emerging brands might pose a challenge. Most franchisees must have better credit, more front money, and past business experience to access the cash to open a unit—which wasn’t always the case before the credit crisis.
“It’s tighter than it’s ever been definitely and it may even get worse,” Dollinger says.
Creativity will be the name of the game for Raving franchisees looking for capital in the coming months. While Dollinger says there is money to be had, he suggests the fact that Monkey Joe’s is a children’s entertainment concept might help it through the tough economic times when lenders and franchisees are shying away from restaurant ventures.
“The strongest growth vehicle and one that is going to take us to the next level is going to be Monkey Joe’s,” he says.
Dollinger adds that the concept has garnered the most franchisee agreements, with about 60 being signed over the last 12 months.