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Plano-based burger brand plans to double franchise network in North Texas

Even amid a pandemic, this North Texas burger chain is looking to grow within its home market.
Credit: MOOYAH Burgers

The coronavirus pandemic may help MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes recruit new franchisees.

The Plano-based burger chain is working on deals to open up 15 new restaurants over the next three years, said President Tony Darden, and interest hasn’t slowed since the pandemic’s effects have taken hold.

“What we're finding is that there's a lot of folks out there that might be in corporate America that might not feel their job is as secure as it may once have been. They want to go into business for themselves, so we were getting a lot of interest to the brand,” Darden said.

Much of the company’s talks with potential new owners has moved online.

The company did see a disruption in growth as the pandemic took a toll on projects that were under construction or slated to open in the spring, he said.

Darden spoke to the Dallas Business Journal about how the company pivoted in-store to continue its growth, including how the company redesigned its locations and integrated delivery services just in time.

Why is it that, despite the pandemic, two DFW locations have seen sales up more than 15 percent over last year at this time? 

Well, two things. That's a great franchisee who has done an amazing job and job number one in the restaurant industry is take care of your guests and take care of your employees. They do an amazing job of giving great service and providing a great environment for their key members to work in. We’re very locally driven – I mean, we are a network, if you will, of small businesses and our franchise owners really engage in communities.

The other thing, especially during COVID-19, is our support team pivoted amazingly well to a complete off-premise model. Dining rooms are closed, but we were allowed to stay open and do delivery, call ahead and pick-up (orders)... Not only did we immediately pivot to this delivery or pick-up only model, as a system, we got delivery implemented in all of our restaurants by the end of quarter four... That set us up nicely to have to pivot to this off-premise model. We just pivoted to that and we have solidified our app and the ability to order, pay and get delivery or pick-up or curbside through it. We had planned to do that in 2021, and in the span of probably seven to 10 days, our support team, our marketing and brand team put together a curbside pick-up program that we implemented immediately.

We implemented curbside, we had rolled out delivery, we have a great app and a great loyalty program. I think all of these contributed to the success of our franchise owners during this time because we had that omni-channel business in place to be able to pivot to that (and) it helped them mentally.

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