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The brand is targeting the Greater Denver area, including Fort Collins and Colorado Springs; Dallas/Fort Worth; Atlanta; and Baltimore/Washington, D.C., for growth through franchising.
“We are in a growth mode, and the recent openings of new locations and signed multi-unit franchise agreements confirm that demand for our brand continues to build,” says Jeff O’Neill, CEO of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group. “We want to be the fastest growing fast-casual restaurant chain in America, and with the innovative programs we’ve initiated that goal is well within reach.”
As of January 8, the company had signed 14 multi-unit franchise agreements, which, when fully developed, represent a total of 57 additional stores. The first two franchise locations opened in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rogers, Arkansas, in 2008. Additional franchise locations opened in 2009 in Texas and Georgia.
Einstein Bros. Bagels plans to open 12–16 franchise locations in 2010 in addition to opening 10–12 corporate stores. Momentum also continues to build for opening new licensed locations. Einstein Bros. opened 31 licensed locations in 2009 and plans to exceed that number this year.
Excitement for the franchise opportunity is being spurred by recent product launches, including Bagel Poppers and Twisted Bagels, the Lighter Fare Menu, and the offering of Activia yogurt parfaits. Einstein Bros. Bagels also is the first nationwide chain to sell gluten-free bagels, available in certain test markets.
“In addition to creating interest with new products, our innovative marketing programs including the First 100 Breakfast Giveaway at grand openings and the bagel giveaway on Facebook have exceeded our expectations and are drawing heightened interest among local investors,” O’Neill says.