AUV: $8.7 million
Pappadeaux Seafood opened two new units in 2014—one in Houston and one in Birmingham, Alabama—bringing the seafood chain to 35 units by the end of the year. This organic growth helped to fuel a 4.1 percent year-over-year increase in systemwide sales, which totaled $297.8 million. Pappadeaux Seafood falls in the portfolio of Pappas Restaurants, a Houston-based, family-owned operator of more than 100 restaurants. Pappas is known for its business model of vertical integration, meaning the company owns and operates virtually every aspect of services needed to support its restaurants. For instance, Pappas owns and drives the trucks that deliver meats and seafood to restaurants, it employees electricians who keep the lights on, and it even has employees who make the chairs in its restaurants. In 2015, Pappas Restaurants does not plan to open any additional Pappadeaux Seafood units, preferring instead to focus on other concepts, including a steakhouse in downtown Houston. However, looking ahead, there are plans to add Pappadeaux Seafood locations in 2016.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
AUV: $8.3 million
Founder and CEO Tim McEnery says, “There’s nothing cookie cutter about what we’re doing at Cooper’s Hawk. Whether it’s the menu, the wine program, the design—everything is built for approachability.” Certainly the 19 units that are open have resonated with consumers, as has the signature wine club, which has 130,000 members who pay a monthly fee, $18.99, to receive exclusive Cooper’s Hawk wine. Members may opt for the wine to be mailed to them or to pick it up in the restaurant.
In 2015, the brand has accelerated its AUV to $10 million, and McEnery is not willing to open a unit unless he believes it will hit that magic $10 million AUV—but it doesn’t have to do so instantly.
“At Cooper’s Hawk, we have a reverse honeymoon,” he explains. “The first year we open will always be the lowest sales volume, and then it grows exponentially over time.”
Company sales are expected to hit $150 million in 2015, up from $117 million last year.
AUV: $8.2 million
Sales increased 15 percent at Yard House in 2014, reaching more than $425 million, thanks in part to the addition of nine stores, which brought the portfolio to 56 units by year-end. The upscale-casual concept, aimed at attracting both food and beer enthusiasts, has more than 130 draft beers on tap. Last year, the brand expanded and enhanced its beer program in response to growing demand for wheat, fruit, and gluten-sensitive beer selections. Acquired by Darden in 2012, Yard House has continued to post positive growth numbers in 2015, and the March quarterly report showed a 5.4 percent increase in comparable same-restaurant sales.
Fogo de Chao
AUV: $8 million
The Brazilian steakhouse delivers a unique dining experience by using the centuries-old cooking technique churrasco and a Portugese continuous-service model. At the end of 2014, Fogo de Chao had 26 locations in the U.S. and 10 in Brazil. Global sales totaled $262 million and the average unit volume held strong at roughly $8 million. In 2015, the company opened its first joint-venture unit in Mexico City and launched an initial public offering in June. Fogo de Chao management believes the brand has the potential to add 100 new U.S. sites, in both large and mid-size markets. The company has also begun a campaign to remodel and update its older properties.