Corner Bakery Café franchise deals move brand into new regions

Corner Bakery Café franchise deals move brand into new regions

The concept is working on new East Coast deals and will soon open its first restaurants in the Pacific Northwest

Corner Bakery Café has signed a franchise agreement to open its first restaurants in the Pacific Northwest and expects to reveal several East Coast deals soon, the concept’s vice president of franchise sales said Tuesday.

The Dallas-based company’s most recent deal was announced last week with Northwest Bakery Cafe LP, a group of veteran restaurant operators that also own 95 Jack in the Box locations. Northwest Bakery plans to open 18 restaurants in and around Seattle over the next seven years, the company said.

“We already have a good presence on the West Coast,” said Jonathan Benjamin, vice president of franchise sales, citing existing cafes in the Los Angeles area and a development agreement for the Bay Area of Northern California. “This will help complete our presence. We’d like to be in Portland, Ore., and some other areas as well.” He said other target areas include Las Vegas and some East Coast markets.

Zee Rajput, co-operator and owner of Northwest Bakery Café, said the company plans to open two units in the next 24 months that will likely be located in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash.

“Seattle is a very vibrant cultural city, and there’s a coffee culture there,” Benjamin said. “We think we’ll fit into that and be attractive to consumers there.”

Corner Bakery recently opened several franchised cafes in Florida and signed a new area development agreement for the Tampa, Fla., region. Benjamin said the company expects two other development deals on the East Coast, but he could not yet provide details.

“We believe that over 20 years we’ve perfected the model,” he said. The “most successful recipe” for unit size covers around 3,800 to 4,000 square feet with 110 seats, he added.

Corner Bakery has recently expanded its franchise sales team. “We realized we couldn’t cover coast-to-coast with just one or two people,” said Benjamin, who joined the company earlier this year. The company this summer has hired Nick Booras from Boston’s Gourmet Pizza and Gregg Koffler from Wyndham Worldwide as directors of franchise sales.

Franchise interest has increased as the lending environment has become more favorable, Benjamin added. Corner Bakery has a program lender on board, and “beyond that we have a lot of inquiries from lenders,” Benjamin added. He noted that the company is looking for commitments from experienced restaurant operators who will develop five or more cafes.

Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group acquired Corner Bakery Café in June 2012 in its purchase of Il Fornaio America Corp. [6], which also owned Il Fornaio and Canelleto Ristorante Veneto.

Founded in Chicago in 1991, Corner Bakery Cafe began franchising in 2008 and now has 142 restaurants in 15 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] [7].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless [8]