Bearclaw Coffee, Askar Brands ink co-branding deal

CHELSEA Mich. Two Michigan companies, Bearclaw Coffee Company and multiconcept operator Askar Brands, said they plan to co-brand their restaurant concepts in an attempt to drive traffic during multiple dayparts.

The agreement between the two companies allows their franchisees to combine two or more brands. Bearclaw Coffee Company is a 27-unit coffee-and-pastry chain based in Chelsea, Mich. Askar Brands, based in Commerce Township, Mich., has nearly 100 restaurants in seven states under its Papa Romano’s Pizza, Mr. Pita Sandwiches, Stucchi’s Ice Cream and CJ’s Brewing Company brands.

Bearclaw founder Debi Scroggins said she expected the first co-branded units, combining Bearclaw and Mr. Pita, to open in as little as two months.

Most of Bearclaw’s customers visit between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., and 35-unit Mr. Pita does most of its business from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., meaning co-branding would help them make better use of their real estate, Scroggins said. She also noted that Bearclaw stood to benefit from Mr. Pita’s strong catering business.

“If someone brought in pitas for lunch and had a smoothie bar, how great would that be?” she said, referring to her own concept’s frozen blended drinks.

Scroggins said some Bearclaw franchisees had already experimented with offering sandwiches, “but we didn’t really have a program in place for them to track the cost of goods or best practices."

Askar has been co-branding among its own concepts for the past couple of years, with nine units in Michigan, Colorado and Texas offering both Mr. Pita Sandwiches and Romano’s Pizza.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] [3].