New Barbecue Franchise Set to Enter Florida via Pembroke Pines
For Jack Flechner, business is all about timing. So it was only a matter of time before he found the second career he was hoping for as a restaurant entrepreneur.
Flechner set aside his career as a real estate attorney in 2005, just as the market collapsed, to launch his new effort. Hoping to ride the popular wave of gourmet burger concepts, he joined a few colleagues to invest in three Five Guys Burgers and Fries locations in Florida.
While he liked the concept, the territory he purchased was limited. In September, he sold out and bought into a small Louisiana-based barbecue franchise.
With a new team of partners he calls “experts at raising capital overseas,” Flechner signed an agreement with VooDoo BBQ & Grill to develop 26 restaurants throughout Florida. The first is expected to open in Pembroke Pines by summer.
The deal is the largest in the restaurant chain’s 10-year history and will nearly double its number of existing or planned locations, according to Chad Tramuta, senior director of franchise development.
VooDoo has 12 locations in Louisiana. The company also plans growth in the Carolinas and Texas.
Unlike the gourmet burger business, which has become one of the fastest-growing fast-casual segments, the barbecue segment offers vast opportunity, said Darren Tristano executive VP of Chicago-based Technomic, a food industry research company. He noted that most barbecue joints are typically mom-and-pop operations.
“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation or growth in this category, so this is a good opportunity for a chain like VooDoo to be able to grow,” he said. “[VooDoo] has a name that is memorable and an offering that’s broad enough to include burgers and salads and items that eliminate the veto vote.”
Flechner, whose territory includes all of Florida except the Panhandle, hopes to have four restaurants open by the end of the year.
His initial franchise fee investment was about $400,000. That does not include leases, buildout or equipment, Tramuta said.
While most barbecue concepts feature a down-home, country atmosphere, VooDoo has a New Orleans feel and flavor, he noted.
“Most people think of barbecue as sloppy, Southern smokehouse,” Tramuta said. “We are bringing a new look and feel to the barbecue arena.”
Most barbecue joints feature baked beans, coleslaw and french fries, but today’s consumer is looking for more Tristano noted.
“They want new flavors and profiles,” he said.
VooDoo BBQ & Grill took note of that, Tramuta said. Its ribs come competition-style, with sauces on the side, and the menu includes a wide range of choices, including salads, burgers, chicken wings and seafood. There’s also traditional New Orleans fare, such as po’boys and gumbo.
The broader menu should prove to be a recipe for success, Tristano said. “It opens the door to give [customers] more reasons to return.”
VooDoo BBQ & Grill
* Franchise fee: $35,000
* Total investment: $340,500 to $625,000
* Royalty fee: 5 percent of gross sales
* Location size: 2,400 to 3,000 square feet