Few brands were as prepared for the pivot to off-premises channels as Wienerschnitzel, a 335-unit legacy brand that serves over 120 million hot dogs per year. With drive thrus at nearly every location, the pandemic did not affect Wienerschnitzel the way it affected some other brands.
That momentum has continued at a breakneck pace. Impressively, Wienerschnitzel managed to post record-breaking sales figures in 2020, up 16.8 percent from 2019. That trend has continued into 2021, and Wienerschnitzel recently signed a 20-unit deal with new franchise partners in Louisiana, in addition to a seven-store deal in Houston and a three-store deal in Boise.
“When guidelines shifted and drive thrus became the primary mode of doing business, our sales took off,” says Rusty Bills, vice president of operations at Galardi Group, parent company of Wienerschnitzel and soft-serve dessert concept Tastee Freez. “But this was what we were already working toward. We had launched third-party delivery prior to the pandemic. We’ve gotten Olo online ordering off the ground. We have transformed ourselves from a nostalgic, heritage, legacy brand, to a brand with that same name recognition in addition to all of the new technology that is making restaurants successful in 2021.”
Now Wienerschnitzel has its sights on what it views as a natural next step: expansion into the Midwest. For a qualified franchisee’s first three stores, the franchisor is offering a year’s worth of royalties at just 1 percent, in addition to local marketing contribution for store number one. The incentive specifically targets qualified franchise partners looking to diversify their portfolios in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin—as well as Oregon and Mississippi—states that Bills and his team believe are a perfect fit for Wienerschnitzel.
“The level of interest, and the presence of our customer profile in the Midwest is remarkable,” says Ted Milburn, director of franchise development with the Galardi Group. “The number of franchise inquiries coming from the heartland of America—and the vastly underserved markets there—is a telling indication of how successful we believe we will be in the Midwest. The lead-in of these inquiries is always the same: ‘There is nothing like Wienerschnitzel in our city—we need one here.’”
Milburn says prospective franchisees will love that Wienerschnitzel’s agile buildouts do not have a large footprint and can fit in a variety of real estate locations. The franchisor offers full-time real estate, construction, and training support to help new franchisees open their doors as efficiently as possible. Milburn adds that another thing which separates Wienerschnitzel from other franchising opportunities is that it’s a relatively simple concept to execute. Similarly, the brand leverages a product that has very little competition in the quick-service space with a unique menu of hot dogs and soft serve served at a value price-point.
“With rising labor costs and chicken shortages, we’re a brand that is a really good opportunity for those looking to expand a portfolio,” Bills says. “We’re not just another burger or chicken restaurant. Franchisees love that our kitchen operation is so simple, it makes it an easy store to run. They love that we are family-owned and privately held for our entire 60-year history, which means we are a company with easy accessibility, and you also know there’s robust financial support behind our initiatives.”
For more information, visit the Wienerschnitzel website.