An executive with the Bojangles’ restaurant chain says the Chattanooga area is an important part of the company’s growth plans.
“We’re moving from a mid-level chain to a more significant presence,” said Eric Newman, executive vice president of Bojangles’ Restaurant Inc.
The chain is opening one restaurant per week on average, he said. There are six local Bojangles’ restaurants, owned by the BoSouth Tennessee Inc. franchise in East Ridge.
The first of three new local restaurants is planned for Fort Oglethorpe, said BoSouth owner Don Jones. Mr. Jones said he is working to finish securing a property in Fort Oglethorpe and expects to open the store by mid- to late 2009. The restaurateur said he didn’t know the final cost of the development.
East Brainerd, Birchwood and Soddy-Daisy are leading candidates for the other two planned restaurants, he said. Those restaurants would be built sometime after the Fort Oglethorpe store opens.
The BoSouth Tennessee Inc. franchise operates six restaurants: Cleveland, Tenn.; Dalton, Ga.; East Ridge; Hixson Pike; Ooltewah; and 23rd Street.
“Those would fill the Chattanooga area,” he said.
Mr. Jones said he does not plan to open restaurants outside the immediate Chattanooga area. But “never say never,” Mr. Jones said.
“Bojangles’ has become a hot item,” he said.
Other Bojangles’ franchises operate throughout North Georgia and in Athens, Tenn.
Mr. Jones, a Bradley County resident and area native, previously worked as a district vice president for Wendy’s restaurants. After leaving Wendy’s, Mr. Jones became a co-owner of the Dalton, Ga., Bojangles’ restaurant. He began growing his Bojangles’ holdings over the next few years and became the sole franchise owner in 2000.
BoSouth’s six restaurants are among Bojangles’ 420 restaurants in 12 Southern states, its core area, Mr. Newman said.
“We could put 1,000 in the region without leaving the South,” he said. “We’re growing contiguously in the South and will serve in areas where people are natural connoisseurs of what we do and who appreciate great fried chicken and biscuits and iced tea.”
The company’s aggressive growth is possible despite the slow economy because of a loyal customer base and the chain’s unique flavors and all-day breakfast offerings, he said. Breakfast accounts for 40 percent of Bojangles’ sales, he said.
Last year Entrepreneur magazine named Bojangles’ as the No. 1 opportunity for chicken restaurants, and The Wall Street Journal has named the chain as one of the top 25 franchise performers for all categories, according to Bojangles’ Web site.
“In August we finished the 60th monthly consecutive same-store sales increase,” Mr. Newman said. “That’s very unusual. That’s underlying healthy growth.”