QSR January 2023


surpasses three to five stores. These franchisees have training squads and open self-sufficiently as they expand. Bitticks, Oganesyan, and other Dave’s executives double as franchisees to better understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis. It also proves to operators just how much they believe in the model. In addition to explosive franchise growth, the chain plans to open one to two company-owned restaurants per year. “It goes along with that same concept of having skin in the game,” Bitticks says. “If we only had franchise restaurants, then franchisees feel like we don’t know their pain. We don’t feel their pain. So having a company footprint is important to us, as well as leadership having real skin in the game by being franchisees themselves.” More eyes will be on Dave’s going forward. In the fall, the company launched its first national advertising campaign called “Don’t Die Before You Try It,” starting with a couple of dark comedy commercials where customers tell stories of their loved one’s untimely fate through crazy events and lament they didn’t have a chance to try Dave’s food. The campaign showcases the brand’s desire to focus on what got it here. That starts with the food, followed by the prof it ability of restaurants. “The growth will take care of itself if we do those two things, and franchisees will clamor to open their second, third, and fourth locations because it is a really profitable model with very high sales,” Phelps says. “And so those two things together, we keep the sales going by keeping the chicken amazing. And we keep the growth going by keeping the profitability amazing.” q


atin, Oregon. I had never heard of Tutalatin, Oregon, before, and we were knocking it out of the park. And again, both of those cases, we had great franchisees that had restaurant expe rience in the market and picked great real estate. And that’s been our model and that’s going to continue to be our model.” To support growth, Dave’s built f ive training teams that are deployed when restaurants open. The chain has opened as many as four stores in one day thus far. Bitticks believes the chain could release eight groups at once, if necessary. The teams, who feel like “rock stars when they’re presenting and turning on a store in a particular market,” the COO says, copy the feel and vibe of the original location. If performance is slipping at all, Dave’s will send another team to help, but that’s only happened once. Thanks to the franchise model, the brand can fully pass the baton once the operator

Ben Coley is a Senior Editor at QSR . He can be reached at bcoley@wtwhmedia.com .



JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com

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