A love for the system is what stamped the card for Panella. He met CEO and co-founder Robert Maynard at a mastermind meeting for franchising. The two started chatting and Panella was hooked.
“Robert is just down to earth,” Panella says. “There’s a great family atmosphere here. And Robert created a great brand and system franchisees can follow, a system they can easily follow.”
Panella says Famous Toastery has “so much interest that it’s actually hard to keep up.” The brand expects to have 30 restaurants open by summer’s end and 60—65 by mid-2018. And this growth is backed by actual franchises sold, not projections. Allowing a bit of guesswork, Panella believes the company will eclipse 100 stores by the end of next year.
“The proof is in the pudding right? I’m really excited about it. We’re inundated with requests to join the system, which is fantastic but we’re still early on,” he says. “… We have a number of more deals pending and we have interest every single day. Every day I’m getting leads. We don’t do a ton of lead generation and yet I’m getting multiple leads per day that are pretty darn good.”
There are a couple of explanations for why Famous Toastery, which began in Huntersville, North Carolina, in 2005 as a small-house-turned restaurant, feels like the shiny new red Corvette on the block.
Twelve years ago, a breakfast restaurant ditching preservatives, nitrates, deep fryers, and freezers, was tough to come by. It was even more unlikely from an operator’s perspective considering the cost-benefit equation. Did customers care? Or did they just want stacks of pancakes accompanied by reheated sausages?
However, in the current market, Famous Toastery’s commitment to ingredients and mindful eating places it right in the center of consumer demand. “We were early and now we’re just on time,” Panella says.
Another note is that as fast casual, quick service, casual dining, polished casual, and so on, expand their offerings and rewrite food trends, breakfast remains a staple of American life. Markets and demographics don’t tilt the scales. “The response nationwide has been incredible because everybody eats breakfast,” Panella says. “And they eat breakfast everywhere. Not everybody eats lunch and not everybody enjoys meat. Not everybody enjoy Mexican or sushi.”
That’s why Famous Toastery’s arrow is spinning instead of pointing in one direction. The brand has restaurants in the pipeline for New York and Colorado. There’s a unit in Exton, Pennsylvania, Ashburn, Virginia, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and five in South Carolina to accompany the North Carolina stores. But this roadmap isn't defined. Panella doesn’t see a town in America Famous Toastery wouldn’t work.
Factoring into Famous Toastery’s appeal is its reputation as a lifestyle brand. You’re as likely to see a server carrying mimosas and Bloody Marys as you are black coffee.