Griffin was sitting on some growth announcements recently that he shared with FSR. Peter Turner, who owned and operated 12 Dunkin’s before deciding to sell out of the brand, discovered The Lost Cajun through Steve Galloway, another Dunkin’ franchisee. Galloway signed a six-store deal for Western North Carolina and is already looking into his second restaurant after getting the first under lease. Galloway told Turner about The Lost Cajun and Galloway decided he wanted to capture all of the North Carolina market left behind. He bought and paid for a 20-store deal, Griffin says. He plans two for 2019 then expects to open three to four per year until he does his complete buildout. Rob Dyer, who runs a Raleigh, North Carolina, store that just opened around Christmas, and is a former Chick-fil-A operator, inked a two-unit deal with the option for two more. His second is under contract and construction will start in the coming months.
Griffin might be surprised by the boom but there are clear reasons why The Lost Cajun is catching fire so quickly. For starters, the brand has the unique ability to open in conversions you wouldn’t expect for a full-service restaurant. The Raleigh unit is in an old Wendy’s. Turner’s first store was a Five Guys.
The restaurants aren’t big and they’re not overly capital intensive. The Lost Cajun asks a $35,000 franchisee fee with size criteria in the 1,500–3,000 square-foot range. They’ve been selling franchises since 2013 and developed interest organically. Griffin says the brand hasn’t advertised the opportunity. It’s been word of mouth and love at first bite.
The other thing is The Lost Cajun fits into what’s becoming a fresh and fast-coming wave in full service. It’s the opposite of stuffy. The average check is $40 per couple. Kids can take chalk and draw on the floor, and there are no partitions to separate booths. “When you sit down at a Lost Cajun, you better be ready to get friendly,” Griffin says. “It’s more than likely your neighbor’s kids are going to be crawling on the floor next to you.