How Hopdoddy Burger Bar is using efficiencies, acquisitions to grow

Austin-based chain repositioned itself during the pandemic and then bought a competitor — and it might buy more still


Founded in 2010, Austin, Texas-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar helped to reset the expectations of the burger category with high-quality, scratch-made menu items, alcohol service and a relaxing atmosphere.

But that wasn’t the same kind of recipe for success during the pandemic as it was before. Like most brands, Hopdoddy was forced to adapt with digital tools to accommodate off-premises business. But Hopdoddy went one step further, re-engineering its kitchen, packaging and operations to better accommodate the post-pandemic customer experience.

According to CEO Jeff Chandler, the result wasn’t just off-premises business that has stuck around since the worst of the pandemic (it was 12% before COVID-19 and about 30% today). It also led to a more efficient model, one that has helped Hopdoddy hit its financial targets with store-level EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and cash-on-cash returns with about half the sales as it used to require.

Now Hopdoddy is looking to grow, and not just through new brick-and-mortar locations. The company acquired fellow Texas-based better-burger brand Grub earlier this year, and Chandler said the combined company — HiBar Hospitality Group, as it’s now known — will look to additional acquisitions to complement organic growth.

Chandler joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to talk about how Hopdoddy adjusted its service model and embraced off premises, plus why acquisitions will continue to be one of the ways it expands in the future.

In this conversation, you’ll find out why:

  • A “racing in the rain” mentality can get you through every crisis
  • Simply adding digital capabilities to your operation is not enough to improve your experience or efficiencies
  • Just because you’re more of a dine-in and quality-oriented brand doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the efficiencies that the QSR industry typically thrives on
  • If you’re having trouble expanding organically because you can’t find the right real estate, considering mergers and acquisitions for growth
  • If you’ve targeted suburbs for growth, get ready to be patient
  • If you build a great team, you can prepare your business for any economic environment we find ourselves in

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected]

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