Matt’s Big Breakfast has no freezers. No microwaves. The orange juice is squeezed by hand. It’s an operation run under a steady eye.
What shifted his perspective, however, was the resounding success of the airport store. The restaurant earned national recognition as the top “Best Chef-Driven, Local or Regional Restaurant” from Airport Revenue News in 2017. And it wasn’t just the accolades that flipped the franchising bulb on.
“We were able to do that with a level of success we really never thought possible,” he says. “We realized that was another way to grow our brand regionally without having to actually open the stores ourselves.”
“Franchising is a broad category. You can do it really well, with very deliberate, controlled growth and being really hands on, and being focused like we are now on our ingredients and our level of service, or you can just try to open up hundreds of them and just roll them out there,” he adds. “That isn’t really what we’re trying to do.”
The Biltmore Plaza and Tempe Marina Heights units both hit the marketplace in 2016 as company-run stores. Franchise expansion into new markets and states is up next.
Pool says regional growth makes the most sense. Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Texas are the initial targets.
Pool says they’re not limiting themselves to those states. Yet they also don’t want to split the map, say one in Ohio and one in Florida, since it would stress the system too much.
In the next two to three years, Pool sees five to 10 units, not 50–100. Picking the operator right now is more important than putting pins in a map. He hopes to open one restaurant in a market, gauge the success, and then fill out the area with the same partner. Pool doesn’t want five operators running five restaurants in the same city.
“Our ideal operator is an owner-operator who has a similar deal as us, who is focused on opening this location and having a life outside of work. They’re not looking to open up just to make money,” Pool says. “It’s to build a lifestyle around the brand.”
He adds that the airport location does have menu items to accommodate afternoon guests, and there could be a fit for such a restaurant if need be. The typical spot, though, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The projected investment for a Matt’s Big Breakfast is between $372,000–$690,160. That includes an initial fee of $40,000. The brand features a royalty fee equal to 6 percent of gross revenues, as well as a requirement to spend a minimum of 0.5 percent of gross sales per month on local marketing, and a contribution up to 1 percent of gross revenues into a systemwide marketing fund. (Read more about the process here).
How you find these ideal operators beyond the capital requirements is a nuanced question, Pool says. They put some unconventional questions on the franchise application to unearth like-minded restaurant owners. “We’ll ask them where do you like to eat? What do you like to cook? It’s a way to kind of discover if people really want to open a concept focused on ingredients,” Pool says.