Franchises are popular among investors because they represent a tried-and-true formula with proven systems that work; but occasionally a franchisee can break the mold and try something different that works specifically in their market.
That’s what Will Brake did when he began planning his second Togo’s sandwich shop in Medford, Ore. Brake is changing the franchise formula to fill a need for more than just sandwiches in the location he has selected for the new unit.
In addition to the regular menu, he is adding beer and wine to the beverage selections. He is also expanding the average size of the unit to 2,600 square feet, adding some diverse seating, such as booths — new for Togo’s — and he’s installing flat-screen TVs.
“It was something I really wanted to add,” said Brake. “Really, there is a lack of anything like it in the market.”
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He believes Togo’s agreed to the modifications because the store falls outside of the region where most of its stores are concentrated, so it wouldn’t create much brand confusion among consumers.
Togo’s Expands Western Presence
Branding itself as a “West Coast original” since 1971, Togo’s has nearly 250 sandwich franchises in the Western U.S. The preponderance of them are in California. However, the company has launched a strategic plan to continue growing the brand in existing California markets, as well as in cities across Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Idaho.
Togo’s sells made-to-order stacked sandwiches using fresh ingredients and has more than 30 different variations on its menu.
“They’ve been wonderful to work with in tailoring the concept to the market,” Brake said of Togo’s cooperation with his plan to alter the franchise model with his second store.
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The franchisee’s established relationship with Togo’s as a single-unit operator and his background as a successful businessman undoubtedly also worked in Brake’s favor.
Brake is the former chief operating officer of Providence Health Systems, an administrator for medical groups. He was the executive of a company with some 220 employees and had 50 doctors reporting to him. But after 30 years in the health care business, the 51-year-old felt it was time for something new.
“I basically went to school for business and had focused on health care, but had always wanted to run a restaurant,” he said. “I decided I had 10 or 15 years left in my career and I wanted to do something different the last part of my career.”