Nicholas Perkins wants to re-establish Fuddruckers as home to the world’s greatest hamburger.
As a franchisee who is now in the process of becoming the franchisor of the 92-unit brand, Perkins says he knows what the brand needs to reclaim its place in the pantheon of better burgers.
“I see it from an operator’s perspective,” he said in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News.
Fuddruckers was, after all, one of the first fast-casual brands to elevate the quick-service burger. It was born in San Antonio in 1979 as “Freddie Fuddruckers,” created by Philip J. Romano, who went on to create Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Eatzie’s and other brands.
Over the years, Fuddruckers was owned by Magic Brands LLC, and then, of course, Luby’s Inc., which agreed to sell the brand and franchising rights to Black Titan Franchise Systems, a newly formed entity created for the deal, which is valued at about $18.5 million.
Perkins, left, also founded the foodservice management firm Perkins Management Services, which is working with brands like Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A on college campuses and is a franchisee of Church’s Chicken. That company, which he said is in its 16th year, will operate separately.
Perkins admits he was driven by a certain nostalgia for Fuddruckers, which he remembers as a kid for the freshly baked buns, never-frozen beef and pico de gallo, made in house. He loves that Fuddruckers’ burgers can be completely customized, with the fresh produce bar, and the ability to choose how you want your burger cooked.
“I believe there are good hamburgers out there, but I don’t believe there’s a hamburger greater than what we serve,” he said. “I feel like I have the skill set to transition the brand to greater heights.”
The deal is scheduled to close in September, and Perkins has a three-phase strategic plan ready to roll out. The first step is to establish strategic alignment between the corporate office, franchisees and the supply chain, he said.
Perkins plans to work on the brand’s technology, including a loyalty program and customer engagement. The menu will see some changes, including the addition of more plant-based options, he said.
And Perkins plans to grow Fuddruckers, “and grow aggressively,” investing in a national marketing campaign to re-establish the brand as a leader in the gourmet burger sector.
One of his franchisees will be Chris Pappas, former CEO of Luby’s, who acquired one Fuddruckers unit in Houston.
Listen to Perkins talk about his plans for Fuddruckers, and his thoughts on the state of franchising post pandemic.
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