“Any of that old world thinking into the new world thinking—that’s what we're going to do with our new prototype,” Chaon says. “… We want to get as much information from all of our constituents. So whether those constituents are guests, whether they are vendors, whether they are people that we know as far our competition … If we can take what we do today well and we can incorporate really our core values—so our passion for what we do in our community, the integrity of our brand, the quality and craveability of our food, the awareness, whether that be social awareness, awareness of what's going on in an economic environment, and connection to our communities—then we feel like we're gonna take all of that and our legacy, and we hope to put it into a 2,500 to 3,000-square-foot building.”
The CEO believes the pandemic will help stimulate development. Similar to other full-service restaurants, the tough times pushed Native to strategically realign P&L, such as smaller menus, implementation of staff, and better controls. These changes resulted in unit level profitability during the most critical months.
This allows the brand to create stronger franchising tools like the new operating partner program in which the company will tell the story of its legacy and use it as an accelerant to find operators.
The objective is to open two locations in 2021 and reach a four-to-six development pace by 2022. Chaon says that as a franchisor, Native wants to provide the best avenue to reach 40 units, not 100. And if the company crosses 40 and everything appears right, then the brand will set a new benchmark.
“We just want to take that little engine that could and we want to put it now into a rocket ship,” Chaon says. “When I say we're going to put wings on Mars, that's going to be interpretation up to all the people associated with the brand, and we want to take that creative thinking, we want to get all the information that we can gather and data, and I think we can keep the brand growing. I think that if we look up tomorrow, I'd rather have 40 restaurants just kicking butt than have 100 restaurants struggling.”