Two Multi-Unit Franchisees Prefer Tried & True
BY BETH EWEN
Tony Lutfi, Marlu Investments
Three multi-unit, multi-brand franchisees own more than 550 units among them, but at least two of them have no interest in emerging concepts. They spoke at a Restaurant Finance & Development Conference panel Wednesday.
“I find new concepts very exciting, but we’ve never pulled the trigger,” said Bob Berg, the largest Popeye’s operator in the country with 150 stores in seven states. He also owns 200 Taco Bell and Burger King restaurants. “We feel more comfortable—we like to see the brands we invest in that withstood the test of time.”
Tony Lutfi, CEO of Marlu Investments, owns 208 stores across 11 states, including Jack in the Box, Captain D’s, Sizzler and Sears home appliance franchises. He, too, sticks with the tried and true.
“Great brands are going to come up,” he said. “But we pay just as much attention to the risk as the opportunity.” He likes brands that are at least 25 years old, and which have “faced the down cycle at least once and recovered.”
Sunil Dharod, on the other hand, a large Applebee’s franchisee in Texas, offered at least a little hope to franchisors of emerging concepts, who covet multi-unit franchisees. “I would like to add one more brand” in the next year or two, he said, but didn’t specify which kind.