In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Quaker Steak & Lube from Bruce Lane, the company’s vice president of operations and franchise services.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you please share a bit of background on the Quaker Steak & Lube concept including its founding story?
Bruce Lane (BL): In 1974, the United States experienced its first major gas crisis. The price of gasoline was off the charts and gas stations across the country were closing their doors. Carmakers began exploring new ways to develop vehicles that got better gas mileage and people across the country began leaving behind their gas guzzler cars for more fuel-efficient options.
Where many people saw impractical vehicles, founders George Warren III and Gary Meszaros saw opportunity. So was born Quaker Steak & Lube, a “Cook Your Own Steak” restaurant in Mercer County, Pennsylvania that opened in an old filling station and gave some abandoned classic and muscle cars a permanent home, including a 1936 Chevrolet, frozen in time on the original hydraulic grease rack.
FC: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background before joining Quaker Steak & Lube?
BL: I originally started my food service career at McDonald’s as an hourly manager in my early 20s. As I continued my career at the famous chain, I rose through the ranks and eventually landed the position of General Manager at a franchise location in Louisiana.
I then worked for many years on the company operations side of the business before moving to the franchise side and working with various quick service restaurant brands. For a time, I owned a handful of Waffle House locations in Pennsylvania before returning to franchise operations in 2005.
While working with Fuddruckers franchise operations and development, I was presented the opportunity to join the Quaker Steak & Lube team in 2017.
FC: How does Quaker Steak & Lube differentiate itself from other brands in the restaurant industry?
BL: Unlike many brands in the restaurant sector, Quaker Steak & Lube is dedicated to providing our guests with world class service, great tasting food and drinks, and hosting a variety of fun-filled events. Quaker Steak restaurants are very embedded in their local communities and take a big part in giving back to the cities and towns where they do business.
Quaker Steak & Lube is the first chain to master entertainment and events, with its venues offering multiple dining and bar atmospheres, areas for larger parties, patios to enjoy outdoor events such as live music, and parking lots that are used for special events and entertainment, including Bike Nites and Car Cruise-ins. The brand seamlessly combines unique décor, including gas station memorabilia, classic cars, motorcycles, and race cars suspended from the ceilings with craveable food and high-octane entertainment events.
FC: What makes the Quaker Steak & Lube franchise opportunity appealing to potential franchise prospects? Which territories are you currently seeking for growth and development?
BL: Quaker Steak & Lube is operated by TA Restaurant Group, a division of TravelCenters of America LLC (TravelCenters), a Fortune 500, full-service hospitality company. TA Restaurant Group operates and franchises nearly 650 quick- and full-service restaurants. As a franchisor, TravelCenters and TA Restaurant Group are fully versed in what it takes to achieve long-term success, and Quaker Steak is committed to giving our franchisees the support they need for success.
Quaker Steak & Lube offers franchisees the entrepreneurial flexibility to customize their location to fit their community’s lifestyle – from NASCAR, Indy, stock cars, motor boats, and more.
This franchise opportunity has a unique competitive position over other franchised restaurant concepts due to its multiple revenue streams, including dine-in customers, to-go orders, pick-up windows, in-restaurant retail offerings, catering services, delivery, and special event schedules.
Currently, Quaker Steak & Lube is looking to expand in territories from the Midwest to the East coast, including cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Detroit, among others.
FC: What qualities do you look for in a potential franchisee? What does the typical investment to open a Quaker Steak & Lube look like?
BL: Ideal franchise candidates should have 5-10 years of restaurant experience as an owner or operator, preferably in the full-service restaurant segment. We look for candidates that have a strong understanding of how to strategically manage a business and execute local store marketing, with a promoter mentality to assist in a wide range of idea and event generation. Quaker Steak & Lube single-unit owners should be well-connected and local to the community.
Ideal franchise candidates should have minimum $500,000 liquidity for single-unit development and $1 million liquidity for multi-unit development, with an investment range from $463,500-$3.2 million.
Quaker Steak & Lube welcomes those looking to convert a full-service restaurant with established operations, financing, and local connections.
FC: What is Quaker Steak & Lube’s plan for the future?
BL: Although known for having a large footprint, Quaker Steak restaurants and franchisees will be best positioned for success in today’s restaurant environment with smaller scale restaurants that can provide a better return on investment. The brand is no longer recommending their franchisees build 10,000 square-foot restaurants, instead suggesting approximately half the size at around 5,500 square feet.
Quaker Steak & Lube is also moving toward a more streamlined and simplified look and feel. Commonly known for the motorsports-theme décor with cars and motorcycles hanging from the ceiling and memorabilia-covered walls, Quaker Steak & Lube is cleaning house so to speak, transforming restaurants to reflect a sleeker and more modern feel with less decorative clutter.
FC: How can people learn more about Quaker Steak & Lube and its franchising opportunities?
BL: People can learn more about the Quaker Steak & Lube franchise opportunities by visiting https://lubefranchising.com/.