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Huddle House Franchise Review: How a Former FBI Agent Brought Huddle House to Virginia

David Worthley chose a Huddle House diner franchise because of its wide customer appeal, opportunity to keep adding restaurants

When he retired from his career as a Special Agent for the FBI, the last thing on David Worthley’s mind was taking it easy. He immediately started looking for his next opportunity, one that would enable him to be his own boss, offer an attractive return on his investment and provide for his family. David found what he was looking for with Huddle House. He’s preparing to open his first units in the Virginia Beach area and is making plans for several more. He shared his thoughts in this Huddle House franchise review about why being a Huddle House franchisee was so appealing to him.

David Worthley, a former FBI agent, picked the Huddle House diner franchise because it offered multi-unit ownerships and an attractive ROI.
David Worthley, a former FBI agent, picked the Huddle House diner franchise because it offered multi-unit ownerships and an attractive ROI.

Why did you decide to become a Huddle House franchisee? I started looking for franchises that are the least affected by economic downturns and ones that are stable, meaning one that is not a trend that will fade away as quickly as it emerged.

At first I was skeptical of the food business, since there are hundreds of choices in segments ranging from fast food to higher-end formal dining. It was easy to get overwhelmed by all the “noise” in the restaurant business. It was a challenge to weed through it all, but soon it became easier to narrow my search.

I was looking for opportunities to own multiple units. Operating a restaurant can be challenging, and many people are satisfied with a single location. I knew I would not be satisfied with just one, so it was important to talk about this up front. Many franchises are so restrictive that no commitments can be made or they actually state that you can only operate a single location. Additionally, territories were very limited or not available.

As my search continued, it became clear that people love to eat out. When the economy is good people eat out. When the economy is bad people eat out. The reality is that we all love to eat at restaurants. With this in mind, I focused on required investment and ROI. One day it all seemed to come together. My research told me to look at diners. A diner franchise is attractive to a wide customer base and has been around for as long as people have been eating out. They also are not a trend that will soon disappear. Within minutes I found the website for Huddle House. The moment I saw it I knew it was worth looking into. Huddle House offers a 24-hour diner with a new look, and the decor is attractive and inviting. The business side was also a home run.

They offered multi-unit ownerships and an attractive ROI. Huddle House is an established franchise celebrating 50 years but is focused on growing its brand with a very customer-friendly atmosphere and with great Southern comfort food.

What were you doing before? My background is not in food. It is surprising even to me that I am now in the restaurant business. My first career was in law enforcement. I enjoyed my time as a Special Agent for the FBI and learned about business practices while conducting investigations. I also managed a technology company, serving as president for its North American operations with both government and business customers.

How large is the opportunity to grow with the Huddle House diner franchise? The opportunity for growth with Huddle House is only limited by your own circumstance. The business model allows you to grow at a pace you can handle. The attractive aspect for me is it fits very well with my goal for developing a geographic area.

Is it helpful to be part of a successful organization? Yes, it does matter. If you are on your own, it’s higher risk. When you are a Huddle House franchisee, you are part of an organization with a history. You have a system that works.

How many units do you own? Why did you decide on multiple units? Currently I own two units, but we are in the process of identifying several other locations that are “best fits” for Huddle House. My plan was to own multiple units from the very beginning. We are opening the units in a location that is new to Huddle House. I think it makes good business sense to open more than one quickly, so we can push the Huddle House brand to a wider population.

What makes your units different? Land is at an absolute premium in the Virginia Beach area. Instead of stand-alone restaurants, mine will be endcap or inline. An endcap is the end unit in a strip mall, facing the street. Inline means the restaurant faces the street and, being in the middle of the businesses in the strip mall, is highly visible.

Do potential franchise owners have to have food experience? No. The nice part about a franchise is that you are buying into the experience and knowhow of a system that has been successful. The training programs are designed to help you be successful even if you have no prior food experience. You must provide the desire to succeed and the ability to hire the right people and then manage them carefully.

What’s your favorite menu item? At this point I would say the Southern Smothered Biscuit Platter, but I’m very fond of the Chop House burgers.

What type of person do you think would enjoy owning a Huddle House? I think people who enjoy customer service have the framework that is important for owning a Huddle House diner franchise. Someone who is able to pay attention to details and multitask. It is important to communicate clearly and hire the right people for specific functions.

What do you think the personal benefits of diner franchise ownership will be? I actually enjoy working, but I’m at the point in my life where I want to work for myself. Owning a franchise provides the ability to get a much greater return for the time you spend working. At the same time, my goal is to create a business model that can provide long-term income for myself and my family.

Learn more about Huddle House franchise opportunities

Are you as passionate about customer service as we are? You don’t have to have restaurant experience to make a good franchise owner; you just have to embrace our mission. Our Sandy Springs, Georgia-based diner franchise has almost 400 locations across the country, and our goal is to open another 175 in the next five years. Huddle House is a breakfast franchise that’s perfect for both single-unit and multi-unit investors in a range of market sizes, including urban areas, small towns, travel centers and convenience stores. Huddle House offers incentives for adding more units, including discounts on remodeling existing stores.

If you want to learn more about how our 50-year-old legacy brand is growing, please explore our research pages and read Huddle House diner franchise reviews and exciting developments on our blog. You can also fill out this form to download our free franchising report or call us at 1-800-418-9555. We’d love to hear from you!