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FDD Talk 2015: The Golden Corral Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on December 30, 2015

in Buffet Restaurant Franchises, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings



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Golden Corral Photo by sarit_mishra

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

  • Section I – Background information on the Golden Corral franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Golden Corral franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Golden Corral’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 average gross sales, by building design, for the top 20% and all 273 franchised Golden Corral Restaurants utilizing the GC-11S and GC-11M building designs
  • 2014 average net sales, food costs, labor-related expenses, controllable expenses, and net operating income, by building design, for the top 20% and all 68 company-operated Golden Corral Restaurants utilizing the GC-11S or GC-11M building designs

Section I – Background Information

Golden Corral calls itself the “Best Buffet in the USA.” It was started back in 1973 and began franchising in 1987. This is a family steakhouse and bakery that offers a wide range of menu items on the buffet line under the motto of “Real Homemade Fresh Food.”

The first location was in Fayetteville, NC, and the chain now boasts 491 locations open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

For steak, the chain proudly offers USDA sirloin that is aged and hand-cut each day by in-restaurant butchers, along with 15 other protein choices at its endless dinner buffet.

Lunch buffet offerings include many home-style classics, such as pot roast simmered for 12 hours, made-from-scratch meatloaf, creamy mac and cheese, crispy fried chicken, fresh-made mashed potatoes, Bourbon Street Chicken, and many other items, including a full salad bar.

The endless breakfast buffet includes made-to-order omelettes, fluffy pancakes, hot-off-the-griddle sausage and bacon, fruit, French toast, pastries, and more.

The bakery and dessert buffet offers an array of freshly baked breads, including the chain’s signature yeast rolls, homemade cakes and pies, cookies, brownies, pastries, and ice cream.

Privately held and headquartered in Raleigh, NC, the demographic served by the chain is focused on working-class people looking for value, as you’ll see below.

Here’s how Golden Corral keeps the buffet line moving in the family restaurant segment:

Military Appreciation Night

Each year, Golden Corral salutes the country’s service men and women with its Military Appreciation Night, something it’s been doing for 15 years running. They offer a free dinner buffet and beverage to any and all active-duty or retired military personnel. The night also serves as a fundraiser, accepting donations on behalf of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

The event has served more than 4.4 million free meals to military personnel and generated more than $10.2 million dollars in contributions to support community-based service initiatives for veterans.

This year’s event was publicized with the help of celebrated actor/humanitarian Gary Sinise and the platinum award-winning band Collective Soul.

Camp Corral

The chain doesn’t stop at its Military Appreciation Night, however. Its Camp Corral offers a free “week of a lifetime” summer camp for the children of wounded, disabled, or fallen military families as well. Since it started in 2011, more than 6,500 children have been served, and the program has expanded to 23 camps in 19 states. Clearly, this is a chain with a very big heart.

New Leadership

This is a big deal for Golden Corral, because it’s only the third CEO to be named in 43 years. Lance Trenary takes the helm after being with the chain for 29 years, working his way up from manager of a single location in Mississippi to chief operating officer.

Celebrity Spokesperson

Jeff Foxworthy is engaged in a huge series of television ads for the chain, with all the ads tying into the concept of the consumers’ Golden Bill of Rights, from the new breakfast-all-day approach to the $1.99 take-home box promotion.

Having Foxworthy as a celebrity spokesperson for the brand makes a lot of sense for its demographic. Foxworthy has made a name for himself as a clean, family-friendly, blue-collar comedian that often celebrates and pokes fun at rednecks.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Golden Corral 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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