Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing franchise series, which highlights brands that are new to or aggressively expanding via franchising. Is your restaurant starting to franchise? Email us at [email protected]
Growing up in a small village in France, chef Grégoire Jacquet never knew what a restaurant was like until he was 14 and went to a restaurant for the first time. That experience changed his life and sparked a passion for a culinary career. After attending cooking school, he learned about the hospitality businesses by working in a high-end hotel, working under a French master chef and eventually working at the Ritz Carlton. He decided to open his own restaurant in Berkeley, California, his wife’s hometown, in 2002. The French concept, called Grégoire, offers a menu of sandwiches and salads that changes quarterly.
He grew the business from a total of two employees and himself to a nine-person staff, which includes a head chef, sous chefs and dishwashers. Jacquet no longer works in the kitchen. He created his restaurant to be family friendly for himself and his staff, opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 7:30 p.m. In 2008 he added a second location in Oakland, California. While this location was successful and very busy, Jacquet said he had to close it because he was burnt out. Afterward, he took a month-long vacation to reset. But the desire to expand was always present.
During the pandemic, Jacquet’s life changed again. His restaurant, which offered pickup through its front windows, was so busy even with restrictions that he realized he needed to find a way to grow his concept. That’s when he learned about franchising, he said.
“Franchising for me was McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell,” he said. “Looking at franchising differently opened an opportunity.”
He connected with iFranchise to create a franchising model for his business and partnered with FranConnect, a franchise management software provider, to create a support system for future franchisees.
Jacquet has past experience with business elements that translate well to franchising, too. When he was operating two Grégoire restaurants, he used a central kitchen to provide food to both locations, he said. Jacquet closed this kitchen when his Oakland location shuttered, but he plans to use this same supply model for franchising on a larger scale, with a single culinary hub servicing 20 to 30 restaurants. This kitchen system is expected to cut down on the number of employees needed per location. It also means operators wouldn’t need to hire a highly-paid chef, he said. The kitchen hubs will be no further than two hours away from each franchised unit, allowing Grégoire to deliver food to franchised restaurants.
“I don’t want to be the franchise that signs on someone and then trains them for two, three, four weeks and then leaves them to do whatever they want, and just send them a mystery shopper or visit them once every six months to see if everything’s okay and go to the bank,” Jacquet said. “That’s not my franchise.”
Development plans: Initial locations in the San Francisco Bay Area will be considered as Grégoire builds up its network of culinary hubs, Jacquet said. Once Grégorie reaches five franchised units, Jacquet will reassess additional markets. Jacquet said he eventually wants his concept to be in all major cities.
Ideal franchisees: Grégoire is seeking extroverted individuals who care about their neighborhoods, customers and employees. A prospective franchisee should have a love for food and the desire to thrive in a business, but doesn’t need a culinary or food background, Jacquet said. Jacquet will consider multi-unit franchisees, as well.
Franchise quick facts
- Liquidity requirement: $300,000
- Estimated total investment: $298,924-$420,100
- Franchisee fee: $40,000
- Culinary hub fee: $50,000
- Royalty fee: 6%
- Marketing fee: 1.5%, which could rise to 2%