The CEO believes the cobranded concept has enough promise to be scalable.
“We have had other BurgerFi franchisees express interest and are excited to see the first one and see how it all works,” Baines says. “But there is a high level of excitement because we're putting together two of the highest sales of food groups here in the U.S. and it continues to grow. … Putting two highly desirable products under one roof, it just makes sense.”
Most of Anthony’s franchising growth will come via a slimmer prototype. The chain’s legacy box is roughly 3,200 square feet, but the new store design will range from 2,000 to 2,200 square feet, with more than 60 seats in the dining room and the bar still intact. The smaller size isn’t necessarily a novel idea for Anthony’s. A location in Boca Raton, Florida, open since 2015, is around 2,000 square feet. An older restaurant in Weston, Florida, is around that square footage as well. Meaning to say, Anthony’s already has a good idea of what kind of volume it can do in that tighter space, giving it more confidence in the latest prototype.
Baines emphasized that even though the chain is downsizing, it will still keep its full-service identity because of the quality of ingredients and significant alcohol mix that ranges from 13-20 percent. But he didn’t rule out gaining more exposure through a supplemental delivery/takeout spinoff. Anthony’s off-premises mixes 50 percent, well above the 35 percent rate prior to the pandemic. Digital accounts for 36 percent of sales. The brand recently rolled out an AI phone answering system to help with off-premises orders. So far, the technology has led to an uptick in average check.
“Especially with pizza, it makes sense,” Baines says. “And indeed, this co-branding in a way will give us an indication of how that plays out with the consumer.”
NDM Hospitality is pretty close to finalizing a second franchise location. Baines can’t share details yet, but he did note that it will be in South Florida. At this stage, Anthony's is gathering interest and moving forward in discussions with a number of new and existing franchisees.
Similar to BurgerFi’s growth plan, Anthony’s is looking to deepen its ties in Florida and move up through the Eastern Seaboard. The brand is based in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, in addition to the Sunshine State. Baines says there will be opportunities for Anthony’s to refranchise some of its corporate units too.
Although talks of recessions have gotten louder in recent weeks, Baines says those concerns haven’t entered development talks with prospective operators yet.
“We are very proactive from a supply chain standpoint and actively working, especially with our equipment suppliers, to make sure that we are lined up because we know how many restaurants we expect to open next year. So we have the equipment started and ready to go,” Baines says.