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FDD Talk 2015: The Brothers Bar & Grill Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on December 25, 2015

in Bar Franchise, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Sports Bar Franchise



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Brothers Bar and Grill Photo by Rodwin Architecture 3

In this FDD Talk 2015 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Brothers Bar & Grill franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Brothers Bar & Grill franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Brothers Bar & Grill’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 annual sales, square footage of the restaurant, and total population of the area where the restaurant is located for the restaurant with the highest sales, the restaurant with the lowest sales, and one restaurant in the middle of the Brothers Bar & Grill restaurants with total annual sales over $2,000,000
  • 2014 annual sales, square footage of the restaurant, and total population of the area where the restaurant is located for the restaurant with the highest sales, the restaurant with the lowest sales, and one restaurant in the middle of the Brothers Bar & Grill restaurants with total annual sales between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000
  • 2014 annual sales, square footage of the restaurant, and total population of the area where the restaurant is located for the restaurant with the highest sales, the restaurant with the lowest sales, and one restaurant in the middle of the Brothers Bar & Grill restaurants with total annual sales under $1,000,000

Section I – Background Information

It was back in 1990 when brothers Marc and Eric Fortney founded the first Brothers Bar & Grill in La Crosse, Wisconsin. They opened several different locations from there, all of them corporate-owned rather than franchised. It wasn’t until 2010 that they formally launched their franchise program.

There are currently 19 locations in Wisconsin (Eau Claire, La Crosse, Milwaukee), Ohio (Columbus), Nebraska (Lincoln), Minnesota (Minneapolis, St. Cloud), Kentucky (Newport), Kansas (Lawrence), Iowa (Iowa City), Indiana (Bloomington, Indianapolis, Muncie, South Bend, West Lafayette), Illinois (Champaign), and Colorado (Denver, Lone Tree).

There would be 20 locations, except that their Madison, WI location was taken by the University of Wisconsin through eminent domain to build a new school of music. The Fortneys tried to wage a legal battle with the University, but ultimately gave up, accepting $2.1 million for the taking of one of their prime locations.



The original concept for Brothers was your standard college sports bar, but slowly evolved to put more and more emphasis on the food. Here’s how Brothers keeps the taps flowing in the highly competitive bar and grill segment:

Homemade Food

As Brothers came to place an increasing amount of emphasis on the food, they decided to engage in a risky undertaking – a scratch kitchen. What it means is that everything is made from scratch (homemade) right there in the kitchen – no prepared food trucked in from elsewhere.

As nearly anyone can tell you, there’s a clear difference in homemade food. So the chain’s concept is now sports bar with homemade comfort food. What’s interesting is that the scratch kitchen approach allows for catering to the local context, a degree of variation not commonly found in franchising.

Brand Loyalty

Lots of Brothers fans came to know and love the restaurant during their college years, and while going back after graduation brought back lots of memories, it was also somewhat disappointing. In their professional careers, patrons wanted more from the menu. That’s why in 2008 the chain hired Chris Bushelman to be its Executive Chef.

Award-Winning Concept?

Accolades have been consistently showered on Brothers from the hospitality and food and beverage industries. Well, at least that’s what it says on the chain’s website. Oddly enough, however, they never say what awards the chain has won. In fact, there’s no press or media page on the site at all, which is usually not a good sign.

Now it’s possible that the chain’s locations win lots of local awards for “best bar” or something like that, but that’s not what I’m usually looking for, which is national awards. I’m not saying the chain doesn’t deserve any awards, only that they may not have won any that are significant.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Brothers Bar & Grill franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD.

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2015 FDD) and Analysis



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