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In 1977, Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas fulfilled their dream to build a QSR concept based on three elements: distinctive flavor profiles, high quality products made from scratch and restaurants with fast and friendly service. The first Bojangles restaurant opened in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it introduced its seasoned fried chicken that is still served today, said Bojangles VP of Growth Patricia Halpin.
The founders later added the restaurant’s Southern-style biscuits — which take 49 steps to complete — sides and its famous iced tea, to the menu. Franchising began in 1978 and the system has since grown to 800 units, of which 280 are company-owned.
In recent years, Bojangles has signed some large development agreements. In 2019, the company partnered with Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores to open 40 new locations across four states. In 2021, Bojangles’ biggest franchisee agreed to open 45 new locations over seven years. Earlier this year, the restaurant chain signed an agreement with a TravelCenters of America franchisee, LVP Restaurant Group, to develop 10 Bojangles units in travel centers, as well as 20 traditional restaurants in the Las Vegas market.
These large deals and Bojangles’ current pipeline of over 250 units will push the chain’s footprint to over 1,000 locations within the next couple of years.
The company boasts average unit volumes over $2 million and years of same-stores sales growth, which Halpin said helps make the chain attractive to franchisees.
“Savvy franchisees are looking for a well-known name. They're looking in the chicken segment, [and] they recognize Bojangles as an intriguing opportunity,” Halpin said. “Our strategic positioning allows operators to take advantage of customer demand.”
Bojangles offers a breakfast daypart, and 37% of sales occur before 11 a.m. Many rival chicken chains, save for Chick-fil-A, don’t open until 11 a.m. or later, allowing Bojangles franchisees to appeal to a broader demographic all day long. Chicken is also a high-demand protein among operators right now, Halpin said.
The chain offers six different restaurant prototypes, including a drive-thru only, modular format that can be scaled up or down in size, an inline unit, food court outposts and non-traditional store models. Full-size restaurants can range from 1,400 to 3,900 square feet while express units, which include non-traditional locations, range from 800 to 3,800 square feet. Bojangles appeals to multi-unit developers that may have maxed out in their current markets with other concepts, Halpin said.
Non-traditional locations are a growing area for the company, which brought on Robert Cook as its senior director of non-traditional development in December. Bojangles, which has some locations in universities, travel centers and stadiums, sees this area as a “key strategy for growing the brand,” Halpin said. The chain is also looking into airports and military bases.
“The timing is really good for us to drive franchisee [interest],” she said. “There's a lot of good things happening out there.”
Training and support: Bojangles offers franchisees 13 weeks of in-restaurant training that covers operations from start to finish, such as hiring, training employees, running a drive-thru, the 49-step process to make biscuits, food prep, financials and business planning, Halpin said. The chain provides real estate, construction and market planning assistance, and once the development agreement is signed support is available through store opening and beyond. The company also supplies various technology assistance, such as integrating with delivery aggregators, and its enhanced app supports high volumes of off-premise consumption, she said.
Development plans: As of mid-September, Bojangles has a development pipeline of over 250 stores with varying timelines of completion, Halpin said. The company has expanded into new markets this year, including Texas and Florida, where Bojangles is opening company stores alongside franchisees. Earlier this year, it opened Ohio for development, as well as several Western markets including Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California and Colorado. The majority of the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is also available for development, she said.
Ideal franchisees: Bojangles is looking for multi-unit franchisees, particularly those working in the QSR sector, Halpin said.The company prefers franchisees that can operate restaurants, who have multiple units and a passion for the brand. The fast food chain does have opportunities for some single-unit development, but ideally signs agreements for three to 10 units, she said.
Franchise quick facts
- Minimum net worth: $1,000,000
- Minimum liquid capital: $500,000
- Franchise fee: $35,000
- Royalty fee: 4%
- Marketing fee: 4%