Industry News | September 30, 2009

Should Five Guys be Worried?

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Kert Gennings, former COO for Jersey Mikes and Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, with investor, Sharon Heaton, purchased the master franchise rights for Boardwalk Fresh Burgers and Fries for Washington, DC, Virginia, and North Carolina and plan to open more than 50 restaurants in the next 5-7 years.

Gennings and Heaton were specifically interested in the ‘Better Burger Segment’ and see a great opportunity to compete with Five Guys in their hometown market with better locations, a more varied menu, improved restaurant atmosphere, and better unit economics than Five Guys. Five Guys has always served “Boardwalk Style Fries” and Boardwalk serves the same beef specifications and buns as Five Guys so the menus are fairly similar except that Boardwalk offers signature burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, and a few other items not found at Five Guys.

Gennings has been interested in this segment for a few years and watched Boardwalk struggle with its first few locations before Boardwalk hired Fransmart, the same firm that helped launch Five Guys franchise program, to help with concept design, positioning, menu development and most of all real estate. The first new post-Fransmart Boardwalk Fresh Burger and Fries location opened a few months ago in Alexandria and is enjoying higher unit sales than the average Five Guys in the region.

“It’s a perfect time to be a tenant looking for locations here in the DC area. We are finding dozens of available A+ locations and the rents and landlord deals are much, much better nowadays. We are also getting opportunities to convert existing restaurant spaces which mean those restaurants can be built for a fraction of a typical new restaurant”, Gennings says.

“I’ve been in the region for 20-plus years and have always enjoyed Boardwalk Fries at the beach and local stadiums and amusement parks. Having this brand, especially in this region, was a big factor for us deciding to invest with Boardwalk”, Heaton says.

“Kert and Sharon are perfect master franchisees. Kert would be an ideal president or COO and to have him as personally motivated as he will be in his region will make our entire chain stronger. It’s a win-win-win for everyone”, Dave DiFerdinando, co-founder of Boardwalk.

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