Restaurants are typically 3,500 square feet with space for an outdoor patio. The preference is endcap or standalone along a busy corridor, but the brand also knows how to take what the market gives them.
Like in Hoboken, New Jersey—where standalone is nearly impossible to find—Turning Point is based in the bottom of a 17-story residential building. Another restaurant is housed in what used to be a Friendly’s unit. The company searches for heavy traffic areas anchored by big retailers or grocery stores, such as a L.A. Fitness, high-end steakhouse, or Starbucks drive-thru.
Ruoff says the interior has morphed over the years as consumers change preferences, but there have been no drastic alterations. The fireplace and breakfast bar are mainstays; the biggest difference has been the recent inclusion of a community table.
“No major changes. As we're talking to people and they're coming to our restaurant, we steer them to the newer restaurants because they have the new image of what the expectation would be,” Ruoff says.
To supplement its dining room, Turning Point has adapted well to the acceleration of off-premises after tackling the question of, “how do I cook pancakes and put it in a box and have it sit that box and throw it in a car and drive across town and have people enjoy it?” The restaurant solved this by including specific reheating instructions, which customers don’t seem to mind, Ruoff says.
On Mother’s Day, the brand sold brunch boxes and did a cross-marketing campaign with Nothing Bundt Cakes that proved successful.
“What's nice is that those delivery companies have come down from outer space on their delivery fees, because before it just didn't make sense,” Ruoff says. “You were cooking these meals and selling them and not making any money and so they finally have come in line to something that's more reasonable for the service that they provide.”
With franchise growth on the horizon, Turning Point will still keep a pulse on corporate expansion. Ruoff envisions a scenario where the company makes an investment in a new market, develops the area, and attracts franchise buyers.
The million-dollar question, Ruoff says, is how the restaurant will keep its streak of never permanently shuttering a store when it hands off the keys to operators. He prefers to believe Turning Point could open 100 locations without closing one, but if he and potential franchisees are honest with themselves, they know the risk is there.
When Turning Point decided to enter franchising, Ruoff remembers his wife asking him about one piece of advice he’d give to franchisees.
He thought for a while, and came back with a pretty simple answer—you just have to show up.
“You got to show up, you got to unlock the door, you got to be in the building, you got to work hard at it and you got to lock the door,” Ruoff says. “If you show up, you'll be fine. I believe that. I've practiced it for 24 years."
“We've had an incredible group of people that have helped build the restaurant," he adds. "But the foundation of the restaurant was we show up, we work hard, we understand hospitality, we try to get better every day, listen to our customers, listen to our employees, we humble ourselves to this business, and I think if you have that and you have those core characteristics in your DNA, you'll be fine."