18-year-old award-winning brand now expanding as the “Franchise with Purpose.”
Zunzibar + Zunzi’s
AUV: Over $3 million
Startup Cost: $750,000–$1.4 million
Years in Business: 18
Model: Bar plus restaurant

Zunzibar + Zunzi’s, the Georgia-based Next-Gen Casual Brand, known for its award-winning sandwiches, begins ramping up its franchise program backed on culture and purpose.

Chris Smith, co-founder and CEO and former Five Guys franchisee, believes cultural alignment between franchisor and franchisee is the most important ingredient for long-term franchise success. “Every franchise has a good product and business model,” Smith says. “What differentiates the best brands is culture and purpose. We have spent years defining and executing both and are excited to position ourselves as the ‘Franchise with Purpose.’”

For Zunzibar + Zunzi’s, being a “Franchise with Purpose” starts with ‘why’ they are in business. Smith is quick to say the restaurant business is not for the faint of heart, and they are here to change it. “As a franchisee, you choose to be in a business,” he says. “As a franchisor, we are your partner in that business, laser focused on solving problems to create value for our six stakeholders.

That purpose is evident in how Zunzibar + Zunzi’s executes their motto and brand promise. “The two-word motto is our promise to our six stakeholders that whenever they engage with our business, we want them to leave saying and feeling it. Those six stakeholders include our team, franchisees, fans, community, vendors, and investors.”

We celebrate our six stakeholders with ZUNZIFEST!, a monthly event in which Zunzibar + Zunzi’s offers its Conquistador and the vegan-friendly Rising Sun—for free, with 26 percent of the day’s proceeds donated to a local nonprofit. For Smith, franchising and expansion are integral parts of Zunzibar + Zunzi’s purpose. “To put it simply, the more we grow, the more we can give,” he says.

The company’s goals for growth include 10 company locations and 25 franchised locations by the end of 2025 in 10 Southeastern states.

Zunzibar + Zunzi’s is eyeing an aggressive goal for annual unit volume. “We believe over $3 million is the new $1 million,” Smith says. “The quick-service space has been targeting a $1 million AUV since I became a franchisee back in 2006. Times have changed and so should the industry’s expectations.”

Zunzibar + Zunzi’s menu, company culture, and ambition have earned the company a spot on Fast Casual’s “Top 100 Movers & Shakers” list for 2022, Thrillist’s 2019 list of the 33 “Best Sandwiches in America,” and shout-outs from Zagat, People magazine, Men’s Journal, BuzzFeed, and Travel Channel. Smith was named to Fast Casual’s “Top 25 Executives” this year and made QSR’s “15 Young Restaurant Leaders to Watch” in 2020.

Smith believes after 18 years of refining the brand, they are just getting started. “We’ve combined the best aspects of fast casual and full service, leveraged technology, and created a model that will leave our team, franchisees, and fans shouting our motto: ‘SHIT YEAH!’”

To learn more about Zunzibar+Zunzi’s franchising, visit franchisewithpurpose.com.

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