DALLAS Industry veteran Steve Fricker, former president of the Daphne’s Greek Café chain, is planning to open 11 Corner Bakery Café stores in San Diego County by 2016.
In an agreement announced late last week, Fricker — also formerly a franchisee of competitor Panera Bread — said he has partnered with real-estate developer Bob Carson in S&B Development Inc., based in Del Mar, Calif., for the new venture. Fricker said they have not yet determined the location of their first unit or when it will open.
Fricker stepped down as president of Daphne’s at the end of January. He is also the immediate past chairman of the board for the California Restaurant Association.
Fricker’s past experience includes terms in the executive offices of Jack in the Box Inc. and Outback Steakhouse. As a franchisee, he also has been a partner in the development of franchise units for both the Outback Steakhouse and Panera brands.
Fricker said he chose the Corner Bakery brand to develop in San Diego because bakery-café brands are hitting the “sweet spot” in the economically troubled region.
He said he prefers Corner Bakery’s “feel,” including its interiors and menu. The brand also has a strong dinner daypart, unlike other bakery-café brands, he said, and has higher volumes and better unit economics for the market.
“California is one of Corner Bakery’s best markets, they’re really strong in Los Angeles and Orange County,” he said. “And I’ve always admired their catering. They’re the masters of catering.”
Fricker described himself as “an entrepreneurial type” who is happy to return to the “franchise side,” where “you’re controlling your own destiny. There’s higher risk, but there’s also higher reward, and it’s nice being your own boss and not having a board above you.”
Fricker’s partner, Carson, previously served as a partner in the commercial real estate firm of Wall Street Property Co., where he developed more than 20 shopping centers throughout the West.
The fast-casual Corner Bakery chain includes 115 locations operated or franchised by CBC Restaurant Corp., based in Dallas. The company has two corporate units open in San Diego.
San Diego County wasn’t a market the company had planned to franchise, but Fricker calls the area home and didn’t want to move his family elsewhere.
“I know San Diego like the back of my hand, and, in these times, you want to eliminate as many of the risks as you can, and knowing the market well certainly helps,” said Fricker.
After launching an aggressive franchising push in 2006, CBC officials said they have commitments for a total of 125 new locations, which would more than double the current system.
“In a time when many brands are challenged to find franchise partners and available financing, we are especially pleased to expand our franchise presence with restaurant veterans like Steve Fricker, one of the most respected leaders in our industry,” said Mike Hislop, Corner Baker chief executive. “We’ve seen a lot of success with our current San Diego locations, and with the leadership of Steve and his partner, Bob Carson, we’re excited to extend our signature menu offerings to an even larger San Diego base.”