Huddle House experienced strong first quarter franchise growth, closing eight deals to open 15 new restaurants across Georgia, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Virginia. In addition, many current and new Huddle House franchise owners are purchasing existing locations to remodel and re-open with the company's refreshed prototype design.
The eight franchise deals for new Huddle House locations, all signed within the past 90 days, will result in 10 new restaurants in Long Island, New York; one new restaurant in Hahira, Georgia; one in Mount Vernon, Illinois; one in Forney, Texas; one in Newport News, Virginia; and one in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Company executives say that several more are in the pipeline to be announced in the near future.
At 384 units and growing, Huddle House executives attribute much of the recent interest in the brand to a new Evolution prototype introduced last year, which features a signature tower entrance, plush seating, contemporary furniture, and vibrant lighting. Management is happy to report that the remodeled locations are experiencing significant comp sales increases.
To expedite the restaurant redesigns, Huddle House set aside $2.5 million to incentivize the first 100 franchise partners to commit to a restaurant remodel by July 31. Those franchise partners receive financial support to help offset the costs of the remodel and for local marketing efforts. Twenty-one percent of the Huddle House franchise system has the new Evolution look. By the end of this year, the company expects 30 percent of the system to be remodeled. With an aggressive approach, the end of 2019 could remodel the entire franchise system.
The remodel initiative has attracted interest organically within the Huddle House franchise system, as well as from external candidates. In fact, also during first quarter 2014, an existing Huddle House owner purchased two existing locations to remodel and re-open in South Carolina (James Island and Monck's Corner), and a new franchise owner purchased an existing restaurant to remodel in Savannah, Georgia.
"By all definitions, we had a strong first quarter, putting us in a positive mindset to celebrate our 50 years in business," says chief development officer Jonathan Benjamin. "The positive changes to our menu and our restaurant design are enhancing the guest experience and creating optimism among franchisees. We're confident of continued growth this year and beyond."