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Baby, come back: Our strategy for reopening old Huddle House locations

How our Southern food franchise is making a comeback in towns that want to bring Huddle House back to their community

A shot from the ground up shows a backlit facade of a Huddle House restaurant.
Huddle House brings communities together. It creates jobs, stimulates the local economy and provides a gathering place for residents. That’s why so many towns are asking us to come back.

Huddle House has been around for over half a century, so even as we’re expanding in areas new to our brand, we have some communities where a Huddle House may have closed down in the past. We’re turning those old locations into assets, allowing opportunities for multi- and single-unit investors to remodel those buildings and open newer, more modern Huddle Houses.

And because the locations are already in place, they’re typically able to do it more quickly and for less money than a new site would cost from the ground up. We carefully analyze these older sites using data from our site selection vendor Buxton, making sure the population density and other data will support a profitable franchise location.

“We’ve done quite a few of these reopens during 2017,” says Christina Chambers, Senior Vice President of Franchise Development for Huddle House. “We just opened two in Florida, two in Virginia and we’re about to open a third one in Virginia. One location had been closed for maybe one or two years. Another was closed four years or more. Some may have been turned into other restaurants in the meantime.”

Who can reopen a Huddle House

“Reopening targets a different kind of entrepreneur,” Chambers says. “For example, take Atmore, Alabama. You’ve already got a building there that used to be a Huddle House. It has the same footprint, so there’s not as much work – it’s really more of a remodel. The entry time is much quicker, and the Huddle House franchise cost is lower.”

Two couples occupy the center of a curved banquette table, talking and enjoying beverages, shot from above.
Some towns have no real sit-down dining options beyond fast food. Huddle House, which thrives in small communities, provides that much needed spot for celebrations, date nights and breakfast meetings.

Passion players who simply want to bring back a community gathering place for their hometown can come in at a lower investment level. Multi-unit owners can scale up more quickly, and some have built several of our Southern food franchises by targeting areas that had a Huddle House before and are anxious to get one back.

“A lot of times with reopens, there’s someone in the community who already knows the location there and they want to reopen it, so they contact us,” Chambers says. “They know on their end it’s worth it. We’ll take their expertise on the ground and combine it with the analytics on our end, and that’s how we determine a good location.”

When we find a closed location, we analyze everything from demographics to traffic counts. Our Director of Real Estate schedules a visit. We talk to the local Economic Development Council to find out what they know about the economic strength of the surrounding area. We do everything possible to ensure that if we take it on as a remodel project or allow an investor to buy it, it will have a great chance to succeed.

A bigger growth strategy for our franchise

Reopens are just one of several ways we’re growing the company. Huddle House is known for serving up Southern-inspired comfort food at a great value along with our Southern hospitality. Our restaurant franchises serve all dayparts, including late-night, and our menu is oriented toward lower-cost, higher-margin breakfast favorites.

The value proposition for consumers and the revenue potential for franchisees make Huddle House an appealing franchise investment option. We’ve been in business since 1964, and we retain our core values while keeping our restaurants up to date. Last year, we closed out the fiscal year with 36 franchise agreements and entered new markets in 14 states, our most successful year in 15 years. We anticipate an even more successful period this fiscal year.

If you’d like to reopen a Huddle House…

For franchise candidates interested in the reopening investment strategy, we have opportunities in Atmore, AL, as well as the Mobile, AL, and southern Georgia areas. You can contact Eileen Himber, Franchise Development, at ehimber@huddlehouse.com or call her at 770-325-1356.