There are several reasons Cody’s is confident in this plan. To start, the concept is able to move quickly thanks to the fact it targets conversions instead of ground-up construction projects. And, especially in casual dining, there are no shortages of buildings Cody’s can remodel presently. Conversions also speed up the permitting process.
McKee says each restaurant looks a little different since it fits to the layout of the former building, and franchisees have some say in the kind of local décor they bring in. The average unit occupies about 6,000 square feet, seats 250–300 customers, and employs 75–100 people.
“There are, a lot of conversions available,” she says. “We’re very fortunate where we run across several of those at any given time and we’re able to vet through and make sure it fits with the customer base and site model we’re looking for.”
This year, McKee says, will be a “go slow to go fast” model for Cody’s. It’s mainly going to be a sales year unless the concept finds an immediate conversion and operator ready to jump in, McKee says. Cody’s is looking at three to five openings in 2018 with next year being the real calendar for expansion. Current locations include: Belleair Bluffs, Crystal River, St. Petersburg, Spring Hill, Bradenton, Sebring, Tampa, Clearwater, Port Charlotte, Tarpon Springs, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, The Villages (two), and Ocala. Target markets are: Tampa Bay, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and various parts of Southwest Florida.
McKee says the concept’s versatility is also a driving factor. During a recent meal at Cody’s, McKee was approached by a family who told her they dine at the restaurant four nights a week on average.
“How many other restaurant concepts will you find that have loyalty like that of your customer base? Where you not only frequent it every week but you’ll frequent it multiple times a week,” she says.
In addition to food quality, McKee says Cody’s understands how to run the customer gamut, especially in Florida. For example, restaurants open at 3:30 in the afternoon. There are happy hours, an extensive bar program, and well-priced menu items. That’s a sweet spot, McKee says, with the retired community. Case in point: Cody’s Early Bird Menu, which adds a bottomless salad bowl and fresh baked sweet yeast rolls to every entrée. Guests can order Fresh Grilled Salmon, Slow Roasted Prime Rib of Beef, Garlic Fried Shrimp, and more, by 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday for a discounted price (nothing is more expensive than $14.98).
The roadhouse atmosphere, complete with license plates and other roadhouse oddities, is also a hit for kids, and Cody’s responds with an extensive menu there that includes everything from Shrimp on a Stick to a Pulled Pork Sandwich. McKee says the concept appeals to millennials as well with its daily specials and happy hour deals. There are cocktails, such as a Roadhouse Strawberry Freeze and Cody’s Mule—a spin on the classic with “special ingredients” served in a copper mug.
“You have repeat customers who come back because the menu is diverse enough so they don’t have to eat the same thing every night and the atmosphere is very fun as well,” McKee says.
Including a franchise fee of $50,000, the total investment to own and operate a Cody’s franchise varies, but an estimated range is between $772,225–$1,476,500. McKee says the concept is targeting operators with foodservice experience. “The motto is we can teach you our systems but we prefer not to teach you foodservice,” she says. “…We’re looking for franchisees who can come into a market and build two three or four restaurants to start with over a period of time and hopefully build out the remainder of the market or even go into an adjacent market and build out.”