Rooster & Rice, the 10-location Thai restaurant chain that exploded onto the Bay Area food scene in 2015, has announced the launch of its new franchise model and plans for national expansion. Over the past six years, the restaurant has built a loyal following of diehard fans thanks to its streamlined, chef-driven chicken-and-rice menu. Now, the restaurant is planning to expand its footprint with new locations across the country.
While the restaurant has its sights set on national growth, the brand has identified California and Texas as top markets for development. The brand is actively seeking qualified franchisee candidates to open restaurants in both states next year.
Known for its streamlined and simple-to-execute menu, Rooster & Rice is perfectly suited for franchising. The minimalist menu reduces overhead and labor costs and allows for a flexible brick-and-mortar footprint that can thrive in virtually any market or retail space.
“Most restaurant brands grow because they have an explosively popular offering or an air-tight operational model that makes them easy and inexpensive to scale. Rooster & Rice is one of very few brands that has both,” says Bryan Lew, co-founder and CEO. “That winning combination has allowed us to grow rapidly throughout the Bay Area, and we’re always finding increasing demand from neighboring markets. Franchising will allow us to meet this growing demand like never before while introducing our fresh, high-quality dishes to new customers across the country.”
In 2020, flexibility became a prerequisite for survival in the restaurant industry, and Rooster & Rice’s versatile store model and universal appeal allowed all of the brand’s locations not only to survive, but thrive. The brand quickly pivoted its focus to takeout and delivery options and provided itself to be uniquely pandemic-proof.
“COVID-19 completely changed the restaurant landscape, but because of our air-tight business model and low overhead costs, we were able to roll with it,” Lew says. “We have locations in a variety of neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area — residential and commercial — in addition to our downtown shops, all of which continued to see strong sales throughout the pandemic thanks to our approachable, affordable and craveable menu. We let the food speak for itself and our menu keeps people coming back.”
Rooster & Rice aims to sign three new franchisees and open one new location in 2021 with the goal of reaching 15 locations in 2022. Min Park, CFO and lead investor at Aroi Hospitality Group, Rooster & Rice’s investing partner, says he expects the brand to have no trouble finding qualified franchisee candidates in every market it enters.
“This is an incredibly strong brand and a uniquely lucrative franchise opportunity,” Park says. “We’ve been fielding inquiries from entrepreneurs asking about franchising opportunities for years, and now, after proving the strength of the model throughout COVID and expanding steadily throughout San Francisco — one of the most competitive food scenes in the country — we are ready to take the leap into franchising and share the success we’ve found with franchisees around the country.”