- Bar Louie is offering a 50% discount — $25,000 — on its franchising fee for first-time franchisees through June 2024 to incentivize new development, the company wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive.
- The 67-unit bar brand also created an updated restaurant layout and design to provide more flexibility while retaining the brand’s ability to craft a localized experience.
- According to the press release the chain’s executive team, headed by Brian Wright, who joined as CEO last September, views the discount as a step necessary to prepare the chain for additional growth.
The new, contemporary restaurant layout was initially tested in the chain’s Nashville, Tennessee, location. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the features that differentiate the new layout from past stores. Bar Louie’s restaurants are not identical, according to the press release, but each is designed to appeal to “an affluent crowd that enjoys premium cocktails.”
Wright said in a statement that current and prospective franchisees have expressed approval for the initiatives taken by the brand during his tenure. The company recently signed a five-unit development agreement with a hotel group in the Midwest to open Bar Louie locations in hotels in the Indianapolis and Chicago markets.
“Additionally, existing franchisees are taking note of the brand’s revitalized operations,” the company said. “As Kenny Patel, one of the brand’s longest-standing franchisees, is opening an additional location in Naperville, IL.”
When Wright took over as CEO last year, Bar Louie had 70 units. According to the press release, the brand’s unit count is currently 67. Bar Louie did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these closures. Bar Louie had 90 units prior to declaring bankruptcy in 2020, but closed 38 under-performing locations as part of its turnaround strategy.
According to the franchise disclosure document for Bar Louie, average annual gross sales at its non-hotel, franchised locations are about $3 million, up from a mid-pandemic low of $1.4 million, but trailing the chain’s 2014 $3.1 million average. AUVs across the system had declined for several years between 2014 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.