- Bojangles' will open 40 new restaurants inside Love's Travel Stops throughout Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi in a new franchise development deal, according to a press release.
- The locations will be managed by the Love's team following training from Bojangles' to ensure a high-quality experience for guests.
- Love’s operates 500 travel stops throughout 41 states.
Teaming up with a travel center like Love's will help Bojangles' expand its footprint without the heavy cost of launching new standalone stores. It also exposes the brand to a new segment of professional truck drivers and motorists. Travel centers have been a growing focus for restaurant chains lately, with IHOP inking a 94-unit deal with TravelCenters of America and brands like Chick-fil-A, Pret a Manger, Shake Shack, Auntie Anne's and Starbucks opening up inside HMSHost-run travel plazas.
The deal appears to be Bojangles' first venture into travel stops, but in light of Love's extensive footprint, it could provide a long-term path toward continued growth, especially when it comes to its unit count. The company declined units by 1% to 756 in 2018 even though its sales rose 1.4% to $1.3 billion. The chain has been rethinking its approach to competing with other chicken chains like Chick-fil-A, KFC and Popeyes, starting with a decision to go private last year after it was acquired by a private equity firm. After going public in 2015, the brand's performance disappointed investors sparking its "restaurant portfolio optimization program," which led to the closure of 10 underperforming stores and refranchising of 30 restaurants. The company also hired a former McDonald's exec as its new CEO in February. The new franchisee deal will more than recoup the lost units while also allowing it to enter four new markets.
Love's is also no stranger to teaming up with restaurants to help keep its offerings attractive to travelers. It has offered fare from a long list of chains including Arby's, Baskin Robbins, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Del Taco, Denny's, Dunkin', Friendly's, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy's. In the chicken category, it's teamed up with a few of Bojangles' competitors like Chester's and Popeyes.
Disclosure: Falfurrias, the majority owner of Restaurant Dive's publisher, Industry Dive, was previously invested in Bojangles'. Falfurrias has no influence over Restaurant Dive's coverage.