8 Unique Restaurant Franchises for the Ambiance-Focused Entrepreneur

As the largest generation in America, millennials are now placing fewer priorities on homes, cars and materialistic goods and, instead, place more emphasis on personal experience.

Eventbrite’s nationwide research of millennials show that 72% of millennials would choose to spend more on experiences than on buying things. This trend is continuing on to post-millennial generations. Eventbrite also found that consumer spending on live experiences and events has increased by 70% in relation to total overall U.S. consumer spending.

This shift shows that millennials and post-millennials have a different view of what they consider to be priorities for enjoying life. This strength is fueled by the rise in social media where people can post photos of what they’re doing, showing they’re having a great experience and it is one of the key factors that encourage likes, shares and comments.

Since everyone now has a smartphone and camera, people want to share their experiences within seconds. Capturing and sharing experience isn’t just reserved for millennials and post-millennial generations. In fact, most people are starting to catch on to the fact that sharing experiences with followers on social media can be quite satisfying.

This trend has fueled a type of marketing called "experiential marketing.” Constantly, restaurants regarded as the most loved, most trusted and most valuable brands seem to have nailed it. For example:

  • Taco Bell: The popular Mexican food franchise allows guests to make dinner reservations using its test kitchen research lab.
  • McDonald’s: The ubiquitous hamburger franchise launched a world tour where it provided 24 gifts of joy in 24 cities over 24 hours.

If food franchise brands are looking to expand, they need to accept that they must provide a unique experience to build excitement and awareness to ensure their restaurant’s success. People are no longer just going out for a bite to eat. Instead, they want meaningful and memorable experiences and, if you’re looking to purchase a franchise restaurant, this should be a major part of your decision.

But how do entrepreneurs who are focused on providing distinctive experiences find unique restaurant franchises when there are so many different types of restaurants?

Here are eight restaurant concepts that provide the best experience, so people will want to visit, share and promote them by word of mouth and via social media.

1. Pokéworks

According to their website, Pokéworks is a “groundbreaking, healthy casual restaurant concept located in midtown Manhattan”. Pokéworks grew their following by giving New Yorkers a chance to try what is called a “poke” for the first time. A few weeks later, lines of hundreds of people were standing outside the first restaurant, waiting up to 45 minutes to build their own poke burrito bowls.

Added to this new experience, Pokéworks also created a video that went viral called “The Sushi Burrito Has Hit NYC and It’s Amazing.” This video has received more than 42 million views so far. This experience has made Pokéworks one of the best-known franchise brands, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. Now it has 20 units and expects to grow by more than 100 new franchise locations over the next two years.

They can be found in cities like:

  • Houston
  • Manhattan
  • Chicago

They’re currently seeking experienced operators in different parts of the country, including Florida and Texas. It’s reported that the initial franchise fee for a Pokéworks network franchise is $35,000 for one unit.

2. The Melting Pot

According to the Melting Pot’s website, “At the Melting Pot, fondue is more than just a meal. It’s an experience and how we bring people together.” It goes on to explain the evolution of the brand. The company focuses on creating an atmosphere and experience for sharing with an imaginative concept where diners can choose their atmosphere among multiple dining areas. This, accompanied by new menu items ensures that customers enjoy the food available and have a unique experience in the restaurant.

The franchise opportunity is available in different states in the U.S. It offers full support services and because of the upscale fondue, there’s very little competition. For a full dining experience, the initial investment for this restaurant franchise starts at $900,000 with an initial franchise fee of $45,000 per unit.

3. Maui Tacos

At Maui Tacos, you are greeted with aloha and welcome. Maui Tacos Mexican grill combines a hip, fast casual dining experience with exceptional food and the spirit of aloha. This franchise restaurant started in 1993 and has grown in popularity with locals and celebrities alike.

They have plans for expansion to 12 stores in 2019 in states such as Hawaii, Louisiana and South Carolina. According to CEO, Jeff Endervelt, Mau Tacos treats their franchisees like family.

4. Another Broken Egg

On Another Broken Egg’s website, you will see that they are driven by attention to detail. The upscale café offers guests the opportunity to feel like they’re on vacation at any time in an inviting atmosphere of casual elegance.

They stress that the ambience of this franchise restaurant is laid back while diners enjoy the unique culinary dishes that have helped them grow a strong and loyal customer base. This company has around 10 venues in the U.S. and is currently looking to expand their base by requesting potential franchisees to apply to become part of this well-known experience-based franchise restaurant.

5. bd’s Mongolian Grill

According to bd’s Mongolian Grill website, “Since 1992, bd’s Mongolian Grill has been delivering a unique interactive dining experience that sets us apart from the competition and has made us the world’s number one Create Your Own Stir Fry restaurant concept.”

It seems that, even before social media became popular, bd’s Mongolian Grill wanted to give diners a unique experience by allowing them to take charge of their dining experience with their ‘Stir It Up Your Way’ philosophy.

With this experience, diners are able to choose their ingredients, meats, seafood and fresh vegetables that are then prepared on a seven-foot grill by grilling experts. This experiential franchise restaurant is looking for potential franchisees to expand into different cities in the U.S. and possibly international markets.

Ideally, the entrepreneur looking to get into this market will be interested in taking on multiple units. This concept has been around for a long time and remains relatively unique, so it would be a good idea to check out bd’s Mongolian Grill if you are an entrepreneur looking for unique experience for your guests.

6. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Gyu-Kaku’s Japanese BBQ’s website states, “Spending time with friends and family is what Gyu-Kaku is all about. Gyu-Kaku offers the fun of shared plates.” They go on to say that they want the dining experience to inspire laughter, conversation and amazing times.

The unique concept of this restaurant is that there’s a personal grill at each and every table, so everyone who visits the restaurant can practice their cooking skills. Staff are on hand to help diners make the most out of their culinary experience by giving helpful hints and tips. This encourages an atmosphere of laughter and fun, while people take turns cooking up individual dishes.

For potential franchisees, the customers-are-the-chef concept provides a unique flair and provides an experiential dining experience. This franchise restaurant already has more than 650 locations around the world and more than 10 years of franchising experience, mostly in Japan. It has won many awards for its concept so, if you’re looking for an award-winning experiential and unique concept in a franchise restaurant, consider making an application to Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ.

7. The Brass Tap

This bar/restaurant chain is unique in its focus mainly on craft beer offerings. According to their website, “We are not just a craft beer bar. We are innovators. We have not only crafted the ultimate guest experience, but we’ve turned it into a business model that maximizes your investment potential.”

The unique proposition of The Brass Tap is that it provides more than 40 types of craft beers. Starting craft breweries is increasing in the U.S. and for those who enjoy craft beer as well as have an interest in franchise restaurants, this could be the perfect opportunity.

This bar/restaurant chain is growing very quickly. According to an article in Forbes magazine, there are already 46 Brass Taps in 17 states and the franchise bar/restaurant aims to open 11 more in 2019. As well as providing diners with the best craft beer experience, when owning a Brass Tap franchise, you have the flexibility of choosing different food items so you can customize your menu. Franchisees get extensive training and support and fees and investments range from $421,000 to $801,000.

8. Quaker Steak & Lube

According to Quaker Steak & Lube’s website, “it’s like no other eating place in the world. A fun family casual restaurant combines over the top décor, fun-to-eat food and traffic building promotions that make each day a special event.”

This restaurant has been around for more than 40 years. The décor has unique elements, like notice boards, and includes vintage gas station memorabilia, classic cars and motorcycles that enable the restaurant to provide an experiential dining service that differentiates it from the competition.

The Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant franchise menu includes items like, burgers, wings and other familiar foods found in casual dining restaurants. However, what sets it apart is the unique dining experience. No matter where your franchise is, it will have the signature motorsports-themed décor. This enables you to capitalize on the brand awareness they have built and ensures that your diners will have similar experiences to other Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant franchises. The company is looking for potential franchisees in different territories in the U.S. The initial fees are around $40,000 and an additional developmental fee of $20,000 is also required.

Conclusion

The above unique restaurant franchises show that entrepreneurs who prioritize providing distinctive experiences for their diners have plenty of options. The one thing that will boost your customers’ experiences are the employees of your restaurant. As you have made up your mind and done research into getting the best franchise to suit your personality and make Insta-worthy moments with your diners, you also need to think about how to hire employees for your franchise in the most affordable way.

With Fountain Lite, you’ll get all the functionality of the leading modern hiring automation software for the on-demand market. This free aspect enables franchisees to streamline their sourcing, recruiting and hiring processes across different locations. Fountain has already worked with companies like Deliveroo, UberEats, and Safeway to hire and onboard over one million applicants every month. Therefore, find out about using Fountain Lite to ensure that after all your hard work and expenditure, you get the best quality candidates fast.

Click here for a video of how Fountain Lite works.

You’ll soon realize how easy it is to track applicants, run background checks, schedule interviews, collect documents and everything else you need to do in the hiring process across different locations while giving your employees various levels of access.

Find out more about Fountain’s features by clicking here.

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