It might seem like a daunting task to expand such a local-focused brand, but Matz isn’t in a rush to meet the 100-unit goal for the sake of meeting it. The timeline is going to depend on how quickly Crafthouse can embed itself into new markets, Matz says. Going into a fresh community and partnering with local breweries and bakeries will take time. But the slow crawl is worth the end result.
“To develop one of these and open one up before it’s opened is nine months minimum,” Matz says. “As we expand we have a team that will investigate the local area. Unless the franchisee already has relationships we’ll search and find the local breweries and distilleries and bakeries and produce people and things like that.”
With this development framework, the next Crafthouse is slated to open toward the end of 2019 or early 2020 depending on when the new franchisee deals are signed, Matz says.
At the three current locations, customers can find more than 50 craft beers on tap and another 150 different brews in cans and bottles. Matz hopes every new location will have a similar number of craft beers on tap that are unique to the market and region.
No two locations will be the same and that’s OK, Matz says. The core menu items will be similar, but every location will have something a little different to discover.
“As you go to each Crafthouse throughout the country, yes it will look and feel the same, it will have some of the core items, but you can go in there saying ‘I wonder what’s different about this one’ because each one will carry different items,” Matz says. “So, if you go into Tennessee and they’re known for their ribs you know we’re going to have a slew of different types of ribs and brisket and stuff like that. Yet, if you go up to Maryland, it’s the crab cakes. So, we’ll have different things on the menu, in addition to just the alcohol and give the best local fare possible.”
The company is focusing on markets up and down the East Coast in the first phase of its franchising strategy. However, if the opportunity is right, Matz is open to looking at locations farther West if the right person comes around.
“If someone comes up to me and says ‘I’d like to open up five of them in Michigan,’ by all means I’ll support it,” Matz says. “We have some people right now looking for sites starting on the East Coast, but again if someone comes up to us in another state in the Midwest or West Coast and says ‘I’d like to do this,’ then we can shift some focus over there as well.”
In addition to bringing jobs, Matz believes the investment will help potential franchisees support their communities in a few different ways.
“Our kitchen is a scratch kitchen and we bring in from local bakeries and we bring in local produce and things of that nature as much as local that we can support,” Matz says. “As we grow throughout the country it will be the same thing. We’ll be bringing in from local bakeries when we open in whatever city and the local produce beer and spirits and distilleries, we’ll also bring in.
Matz adds, “It’s about eat local … support the community, support local and people are really liking that. That’s how were growing. As we’re looking for franchisees and they’re going to take ownership in their locations and each one is going be individually owned to support that local economy and that local area.”