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FDD Talk: The Black Bear Diner Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on March 29, 2016

in Breakfast Franchise, Diner Franchise, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Lunch Restaurant Franchise



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Black Bear Diner Modesto

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

  • Section I – Background information on the Black Bear Diner franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Black Bear Diner franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Black Bear Diner’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 average, high, and low gross sales for the 45 franchised Black Bear Diner restaurants in operation for one year or longer and provided the franchisor with the necessary data as of the effective date of the 2015 Franchise Disclosure Document

Section I – Background Information

The first Black Bear Diner was started back in 1995 by Bruce Dean, along with partners Bob and Laurie Manley, in Mt. Shasta, a small town in extreme northern California on the flanks of Mt. Shasta – a 14,000-foot-tall potentially active volcano.

The founders had just one thing in mind – serving families home-style comfort food in a comfortable atmosphere with stellar service and a community orientation. Its menu is vast, its portions generous, and everything is offered at an excellent value.

The chain is looking to expand rapidly from its current 71 locations in eight western states to at least 100 locations by 2018. Here’s how Black Bear Diner keeps folks comfortable in the full-service restaurant segment:

Keepin’ It Real

In a world of gimmicky fast food, part of the founders’ point in starting Black Bear Diner was to offer something real and authentic. And that doesn’t apply to just the food but also the service as well. The chain’s servers will actually connect with customers, look them in the eye and smile when they greet you and take your order.

The goal with the food is to have people think it tastes just like grandma used to make. When customers eat there, if they feel like they’ve finally come home, then the chain has achieved its objective. It’s a genuine experience.

As Bob Manley puts it, “Part of our training is to teach people to go beyond etiquette and form real relationships.”

Award-Winning “Anti-Chain”

Black Bear Diner is clearly onto something. In the last two years the chain has accumulated all kinds of accolades. Franchise Times put it on their Top 200 Chains and Smartest Growing Brands lists, the Franchise Business Review ranked it as one of 2015’s Top Franchise Opportunities, while Full Service Restaurant magazine ranked it in the Top 10 High Performing Regional Chains.

In 2014, it made the Top 50: Franchisee Satisfaction by Franchise Business Review, and took the #9 slot in the Top 10: Full Service Growth Chains ranking published by Technomic.

Just the Right Touches

The log-cabin feel and bear theme plays a crucial role in the chain’s branding, but it’s not overly done. There are elegantly carved wooden bears here and there, and each restaurant features custom artwork both inside and out in the form of sweeping murals by real artists.

The Black Bear line of condiments includes Papa Bear hot sauce (high heat level), while Baby Bear is mild and Mama Bear is somewhere in between (it’s up to you to decide if it’s just right).

And there’s a real jukebox in each location that works on quarters. The story behind that, by the way, is that during their first year starting on such a shoe-string budget, each Monday Bruce and Bob would empty the quarters out of the jukebox and split them – that was their pay!

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Black Bear Diner 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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