Friday, September 27, 2013

Toast Cafe plans to expand through franchising

Toast Café, started eight years ago in Charlotte, plans to kick its expansion plans into high gear with a franchising program, the owners said.

Toast has three locations, in Dilworth, Ballantyne and Davidson. The company is working on its first Fort Mill location as well.

"We have been around for eight years and decided that was the best way to go," said Robert Maynard. "It's been a long road to get this thing really, really right."

He and Brian Burchill co-founded the company after working as actors and musicians in New York.

Their goal is to open 25 stores in the Charlotte area and beyond over the coming years. They've worked to standardize the menus and methods so that they can expand the concept, Maynard and Burchill said.

"Consistency is very important," said Burchill.

They've also hired Brett Larrabee as director of brand development. Larrabee previously worked for Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and helped to grow that franchise to the national presence it is today.

He sees parallels in the two businesses. Where Five Guys made its mark offering a "better burger" option - a slightly more upscale alternative to staples such as McDonald's - Toast offers a "better breakfast" option, compared with companies like IHOP.

"It really is the same concept as Five Guys," Larrabee said of Toast. "It's just breakfast, not burgers."

Toast already has potential franchisees lined up, but is still looking for more, the company said. Development will focus on the East Coast at first. One of the brand's selling points is that since the restaurants are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., meaning owners can have time to spend with their families.

Part of the franchising will be a name change, they said. The new name will be something similar to Toast Café, but it hadn't been settled on yet as of this writing.

So, what do you think? How many Toast Cafes would you like to see around Charlotte?