Schlotzsky’s hopes to grow once again in the Sunshine State

By Susan R. Miller

Schlotzsky’s fast-casual restaurants should be popping up again all over the Sunshine State.

The company once had a presence here, but a 2004 bankruptcy nearly halved its number of restaurants.

In 2006, Atlanta-based Focus Brands purchased Schlotzsky’s and rebranded existing stores. Now the company is poised for growth, VP of Sales David Wheeler said.

Once known as home to the original round sandwich of meats, cheeses and black olives, Schlotzsky’s expanded its menu to offer salads, pizzas, wraps and soups.

“Under Focus Brands, we have made it more fun, unique and hip,” Wheeler said. “It used to be more of a deli; now it’s more fast-casual.”

On a scale of one to 10, he said Florida is a 10 when it comes to the company’s growth strategy.

“Florida is the No. 1 state where we get requests from customers to come back,” Wheeler said.

At the recent Franchise Expo South in Miami Beach, Wheeler said Focus Brands came away with a lot of strong franchise candidates from all over the state.

There are just three Schlotzsky’s in Florida: one in Gainesville and two in Panama City.

Wheeler is working with a group looking to develop one in Orlando and another in Fort Myers, and he’s hoping to find partners for South Florida. The target is 150 restaurants statewide.

Because Focus Brands has Carvel and Cinnabon under its corporate umbrella, Schlotzsky’s will sell both. The franchise fee, which includes all three brands, is $38,500. Total costs can range from $250,000 to more than $650,000, depending on buildout costs.

Source: South Florida Business Journal