Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe has a unique story. The elevated-yet-approachable fast-casual sandwich brand was founded by Doug Stritzel, who has decades of experience in the restaurant industry and wanted to start a concept that does everything right: by treating employees, customers, and ingredients with respect.
“In the beginning, I started Pickleman’s to provide people with an opportunity to create a great lifestyle for themselves and provide for their family,” says Stritzel, who remains the CEO. “And we have a responsibility to our customers to make sure that when they come in, they’re eating healthier and safer than they typically would get at other restaurants. We’re taking an artisan approach to a sandwich deli.”
That guiding philosophy has paid off for the brand. It has 29 franchised locations, mostly in the Midwest, with a $1.44 million AUV in 2022. Now Pickleman’s is seeking to grow even more—with the right partners, the right way.
“2023 is the year where we’re putting all the building blocks in place and getting the funnel in place,” Stritzel says.
The brand is inviting entrepreneurs with a track record of success to inquire about franchising opportunities. That track record doesn’t necessarily have to be in the restaurant industry—Stritzel says he looks for a “thread of excellence” in potential franchisees confirming they’re willing to work hard and smart in order to thrive. This year, the brand is targeting opportunities in the central United States.
This growth phase coincides with an eventful year for Pickleman’s. The brand recently rolled out No Antibiotics Ever chicken and pulled pork—staking its claim as the first national quick-service sandwich brand to commit to sourcing chicken with this USDA-enforced label. Pickleman’s prides itself on the rigorously high quality of its ingredients.
“Our brand is not based on gimmicks or ongoing discounts because that doesn’t create loyalty; consistently great food does,” Stritzel says. “We make our dressings from scratch in-house. We make our cookies from scratch in-house, daily. We slice all of our meats at the store daily, as well as our produce. The kids like our menu; the large office settings and big families like it; the grandparents like it. There’s something that appeals to most everybody.”
In April 2023, Pickleman’s also announced the opening of its third location with a drive thru, located in the Kansas City metro area. Combined with a commitment to excellent food prepared efficiently, the addition of more drive-thru locations will position Pickleman’s to become a powerhouse brand. “We make everything to order, and the flow and the timeliness of the process is exceptional,” Stritzel says. “Everything that we make is on a production line that flows to the point of purchase.”
As Pickleman’s continues to grow, the focus remains the same—working with exceptional people to craft exceptional food and exceptional experiences. “We’re primed and ready to go,” Stritzel says. “Our top line potential is enormous.”
To learn more about franchising with Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe, visit the website.