5 Reasons to Invest in McAlister’s Deli®

When it comes to being positioned as the fast-casual brand to beat, there’s one franchising opportunity that consistently stands out from the crowd: McAlister’s Deli®.


Here are the top 5 reasons to invest:


1. Brand Reputation

With a diverse menu and an unwavering focus on service and hospitality, McAlister’s Deli® has a long history of raising the bar in the fast-casual restaurant segment. By offering a simple, yet elevated menu of sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™ Tea, the brand is able to reach and attract a wide base of customers, and with dine-in and off-premise service options, guests are able to enjoy McAlister’s Deli® how and when they want. Furthermore, McAlister’s Deli® is able to maintain such a strong connection with every customer that walks through its doors because of its attention to detail. Each menu item is made to order and then delivered to guests with a smile.

“Our philosophy is to offer “a little something extra” to each of our guests, and for that reason, McAlister’s Deli® has developed a large and loyal following of customers and happy and satisfied franchisees.”, according to Jeff Sturgis, Vice President of Franchise Development.


Franchisee feedback:

“At McAlister’s Deli®, the doors open by 11a.m., and we’ll immediately have guests coming through our doors for that first glass of sweet tea. You won’t find more loyal guests than those that come to McAlister’s Deli® —some are even here two or three times a day. The reason for that is simple —our expanded menu sets us apart. But the effort and energy we put into the hospitality is something special. We deliver your meals to your table. We refill your drinks. And we take care of our guests. You don’t get that kind of service at a sandwich shop. It’s our true differentiator. And that’s why I chose McAlister’s Deli® over any other brand.” – David Blackburn

“Growing up in the South, you come to realize that good service and heart-warming hospitality are just as important as the food being served. I fell in love with the way food could bring people together and lift someone’s mood, and I found that in McAlister’s Deli®. McAlister’s Deli® is different from other restaurant brands out there and is definitely not a sandwich shop. This is a restaurant fueled by great service and simple —yet elevated—food. It’s the kind of place that feels like a second home.” – Yaron Goldman

2. System and Financial Performance

Earlier this year, McAlister’s Deli® announced it has climbed 123 spots to No. 23 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 38th Annual Franchise 500® ranking. The magazine recognizes the role that big data, social media, cloud tools and powerful customer management systems have all played in dramatically changing the way franchise systems tackle operations, customer communication and franchisee education – all key factors in determining the Franchise 500® rankings. Additional factors that go into Entrepreneur’s evaluation include costs and fees, size and growth, support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability.

Entrepreneur isn’t the only third-party analyst who has ranked McAlister’s Deli® as a good value. Using proprietary data collected by Restaurant Business and its sister research firm Technomic® from 2016, Business Insider looked at nearly 100 of the largest U.S. chains and rated them on three criteria: financial performance, customer satisfaction and overall value. Out of the 25 brands that were ranked, McAlister’s Deli® came in at No. 17.

“Being recognized by some of the leading business and industry publications, is a great achievement,” said Paul Macaluso, President of McAlister’s Deli®. “We’re truly humbled and honored, and attribute our success as a brand in large part to our dedicated franchisees and loyal guests across the country. We’re looking forward to leading McAlister’s Deli® to continued growth and brand innovation.”

The financial performance of a McAlister’s Deli® restaurant is another reason for its on-going industry recognition and growth. According to their current FDD, McAlister’s Deli® enjoys some of the best unit-level metrics in the fast-casual restaurant space – average unit volumes exceeding $1,600,000 and growth in top line sales since 2012. All from a relatively simple operating platform that utilizes no grills or fryers.

Franchisee feedback:

“We’ve had very strong same store sales growth over the last eight years or so. That brand has been really thriving for us.” – Sean Conway, The Bistro Group, Multi-Unit Franchisee

3. Growth Potential

Unique positioning within the fast-casual industry is what makes McAlister’s Deli® stand out from the competition as it continues to expand — but it’s not the only thing. In addition to offering an elevated fast-casual dining experience, McAlister’s Deli® offers extensive corporate support and gives prospective franchisees the opportunity to be a part of a rapidly growing brand and benefit from being under the umbrella of its parent company, FOCUS Brands®.

There’s a reason why franchisees of multiple brands, including Wendy’s®, Denny’s®, Long John Silver’s®, Dunkin Donuts®, Five Guys®, Taco Bell® and Wingstop®, have recently decided to develop a McAlister’s Deli® alongside their current portfolio of brands. As experienced multi-unit operators, they all shared a desire to grow their respective brand portfolios and came to the same conclusion – adding McAlister’s Deli® to their portfolio would be a smart investment decision.

Franchisee feedback:

“Going from one to two units was huge for us, especially when you’re used to being there six days a week. But with the help of McAlister’s support team, we learned how to put the right team and systems in place to help us sustainably grow to eleven units and beyond. Without guidance from McAlister’s Deli®, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” – Jeff Shawl, multi-unit franchisee

4. Operations Simplicity

McAlister’s business model is incredibly simple. By focusing on what it does best and eliminating the need for major restaurant equipment like fryers and grills, the brand gives prospective business owners the opportunity to grow alongside the booming fast-casual industry without breaking the bank. That simplicity is present in everything McAlister’s Deli® does — at its core, the brand serves great food with exceptional customer service in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

“Behind the scenes, McAlister’s works to help ensure that every franchisee is set up for success. Operational efficiency and simplicity, superior products with a broad menu, differentiated guest experience and exceptional customer satisfaction are only some of the ways McAlister’s Deli® has long set itself apart,” Macaluso said “As we celebrate the 400th restaurant in the brand’s growing system, it’s clear we have a recipe for success that — quite simply — works.”

Franchisee feedback:
“Whenever I come across someone who has visited a McAlister’s Deli®, their reaction is enthusiastic. People don’t just like to visit us, they love the entire experience. McAlister’s Deli® has given me all of the tools and resources that I need to be successful. Its business model is simple and easy to adapt to our market, which makes us excited about the possibilities for growth with the brand going forward.” – Jim Gillenwater Jr., multi-unit franchisee

5. Trusted Leadership and Management

Franchisees who enter McAlister’s Deli® franchise system gain access to a long list of benefits. From support throughout the grand opening process that includes real estate selection and marketing tactics to a strong network of more than 400 existing restaurants, the brand’s local owners are able to rely on a corporate team of experts when getting their businesses off the ground. However, the competitive advantages of being a franchisee of McAlister’s Deli® do not stop there — the brand adds another layer of support to its system by being a part of FOCUS Brands®.

FOCUS Brands® is a leading developer of global, multi-channel, food service brands. In addition to McAlister’s Deli®, its portfolio includes Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Schlotzsky’s®, Auntie Anne’s®, Cinnabon® and Carvel®. One of the main areas of synergy for McAlister’s Deli® is in the supply chain needed to support all stores. The combination of these six brands provides FOCUS Brands® with considerable clout and leverage when working with the vendor and distribution marketplace.

“Instead of going to market as McAlister’s Deli® with 400 stores, we’re going into the vendor community as FOCUS Brands®, which works on behalf of 4,600 locations,” said Rich Kamph, Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain for FOCUS Brands®. “What that means for franchisees is they participate in a much larger buying organization and are the recipient of the increased value this larger organization delivers. We’re able to leverage our size and scale with vendors to negotiate superior supply agreements on high quality products and ingredients.”

Franchisee feedback:
“If you’re interested in franchising, you should take a very serious look at McAlister’s Deli®. One, obviously, it’s financially successful. Two, I think it’s a brand that has growth opportunities from a geography standpoint. Three, I think within our segment we’re really having fast paced growth which is exciting. I think one important thing that sets McAlister’s Deli® apart today in how the system’s operated today is that senior management is listening to franchisees.” – Kelly Saxton of the Saxton Group, which owns over 70 McAlister’s locations across four different states.

Fast Casual Chain McAlister’s Deli® On Track to Triple Number of Openings Since 2013

Growth fueled by both existing franchisees, as well as new partnerships with experienced multi-unit franchise owners.

When Vice President of Development, Jeff Sturgis joined McAlister’s Deli® in 2013, the company’s growth in terms of number of new openings was relatively flat, having opened only 12 restaurants that year.

Earlier this year, McAlister’s Deli® announced a successful 2016, with 33 new openings and $591,303,426 in system-wide sales. The company notes its growth was fueled in part by new franchise agreements signed with prominent multi-unit franchise owners. Sturgis explains, “We have done a lot of work over the last few years to drive profitable top line sales, refresh and update the look and feel of our restaurants and engage with our guests, and this work triggered the existing franchisee base to reinvest in the brand, so the existing franchisees were opening new restaurants. This led to attracting new franchisees to the system. The work that started a few years ago and continues to present, helped lead to this year; where we are on pace to open 40 new units.” The brand estimates the cost for a franchisee to open a McAlister’s Deli®, not including real estate, between $762,000 and $1,023,000.

In 2016, McAlister’s Deli® opened 33 new restaurants, with a geographical spread over several states including Texas, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, North and South Carolina. New markets, including Naples, FL; Cleveland, OH; Buffalo, NY; NW Indiana; and Blacksburg, VA. Commitments were signed to open future McAlister’s restaurants in several states including Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama.

“It started with foundational work; we gained the confidence of our existing franchisees, and they gained confidence in the brand and started reinvesting in us,” added Sturgis.

In 2017, McAlister’s Deli® will continue its aggressive expansion with plans to open new restaurants in first time markets, such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Salt Lake City and Tucson, and additional restaurants in established markets including Dayton, Tempe, Dallas, Chicago and Northern Virginia. The company anticipates this growth will be fueled by both existing franchisees as well as new partnerships with experienced multi-unit franchise owners with notable portfolios.

“The McAlister’s Deli® brand has set a foundation for long-term growth while building momentum for a significant year,” said McAlister’s Deli® President Paul Macaluso. “We continue to be focused on profitable top-line growth, excellent unit-level economics and finding the right franchisees to bring great dining experiences to our guests around the country.”

McAlister’s Deli® currently operates more than 400 locations in the U.S., across 28 states. The company states that it has attracted a record number of franchise inquiries in recent years due to its quality leadership, healthy sales to investment ratio, and exceptional company performance. This year, McAlister’s Deli® climbed to No. 23 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 38th Annual Franchise 500® ranking, an award based on five pillars, including growth, brand strength, and financial stability.

Northeast Ohio: A Hotspot of Development for McAlister’s Deli®

Growing brand no stranger to region but still has franchise territories available.

McAlister’s Deli® is growing in Ohio. With nine restaurants currently open and several in development, the brand is represented in each of the major economic zones of the state. And there’s still room for more growth, particularly in Northeast Ohio, a current economic hotspot.

Founded in 1989 in Oxford, Mississippi, McAlister’s Deli® has been active in Ohio for over ten years. In its fast casual segment, whose value is expected to reach a whopping $66.87 billion by 2020, McAlister’s Deli® isn’t confined to one specific label. By serving top quality sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, the brand is able to offer something for almost everyone. But its comprehensive menu isn’t the only thing that differentiates McAlister’s Deli® from the competition.

Loyal customers also know the brand across the country for its commitment to hospitality. Exceptional customer service is at the core of every McAlister’s Deli® location—from providing a near full-service dining experience to ensuring that meals are served with a smile, the brand goes above and beyond to create a family-friendly environment and positive atmosphere. That focus on making every customer experience a great one has established a unique brand culture that is hard to find anywhere else. Except for Northeast Ohio, a fact about which the brand is excited to change.

“Kiplinger just named Cleveland the number three fastest growing city in the US in terms of stability and economic growth,” said Jeff Sturgis, Vice President of Development for FOCUS Brands®, owner of McAlister’s Deli®. “From a targeting standpoint, our goal is to continue to develop and build out Northeast Ohio. We are looking to get into the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown areas as well. We are actively looking for additional franchisees here.”

With over 400 restaurants in 28 states, McAlister’s Deli® has a system of local owners who are thriving in their local communities, including Ohio.

“Ohio overall is in our path of growth. It’s contiguous to where we have successful stores,” Sturgis said. “We have been in the Cincinnati market for over 10 years. As we look at our overall development footprint, we are well developed in Indiana and continue to grow, and we are also well developed in Kentucky and continue to grow there. Ohio adjoins those states, so it is a natural growth path for us.”

The brand has high levels of franchisee satisfaction and supports its owners throughout the entire franchising process. McAlister’s Deli® corporate team is in it together with its franchisees—from hands-on, immersive franchisee training that includes on-the-job experience in an existing McAlister’s Deli® restaurant to periodic visits from the brand’s franchise business consultants, the brand is actively involved in setting its local owners up for success. And with a comprehensive, system-wide approach to advertising, marketing and promotions, McAlister’s Deli® is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to spread the word about the brand’s unique concept.

Sturgis emphasizes that, although the brand is already active in Ohio, territories are still available.
“McAlister’s Deli® is a brand that is well known because of our presence in surrounding markets that feed into Ohio. Cincinnati is well established, and our growth in Dayton just started two and a half years ago. Columbus opened three years ago, and Cleveland started last summer. We have momentum in this market.”

By working with franchisees to improve its system, McAlister’s Deli® is positioned for long-term success. The brand isn’t afraid to make positive changes—locations with the right real estate capability are now introducing a pick-up window, for example, to reach customers who want to enjoy McAlister’s Deli® on the go. McAlister’s Deli® also offers prospective business owners a simple business model at its core. All menu items are made to order, but McAlister’s Deli® locations don’t have equipment like grills or fryers, making for a less complex operating format.

“We work hard every day to help our franchisees be profitable. Between our simple business model and established best practices, our local owners are automatically put in a position to make the most of the McAlister’s Deli® business ownership opportunity,” Sturgis concluded.

If you’re looking to help McAlister’s Deli® grow throughout Ohio, please fill out the GET STARTED form.

McAlister’s Deli® Continues to Expand in Virginia by Bringing its Efficient Operating Model and Signature Genuine Hospitality

After identifying Northern Virginia as a key area for growth, the brand is actively looking for franchisees to expand in the state.

When McAlister’s Deli® first opened its doors for business in the late 1980s in Oxford, Mississippi, the brand led the way in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. Backed by its top quality menu, McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™ and its signature genuine hospitality, the brand quickly became an innovator and leader to beat. And now, with restaurants operating in 29 states across the country, McAlister’s Deli® is continuing to set the standard for serving customers simple, yet elevated food and delicious sweet tea with a little something extra.

In order to continue bringing its sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, and desserts to new communities, McAlister’s Deli® is actively looking to expand in key development markets by aligning with experienced multi-unit restaurant operators. One of those areas is Northern Virginia. With 11 restaurants already open in the state, including the newest location in Fairfax, VA, the Northern part of the state is a natural next step as it continues to grow, according to McAlister’s Deli® Vice President of Franchise Development, Jeff Sturgis

“Northern Virginia is an important part of McAlister’s growth strategy as we continue to expand. We’ve proven time and again that our concept has the potential to be successful in different regions of the country, and we’re confident that Northern Virginia will continue that longstanding trend,” said Sturgis. “McAlister’s Deli® has already established a strong reputation and created positive relationships with consumers across Virginia. We want to build on the momentum that’s already evident in the state.”

McAlister’s Deli® is able to maintain such a strong connection with every customer that walks through its doors because of its attention to detail. Each menu item is made to order and then delivered to guests with a smile. And its commitment to creating a family-friendly environment isn’t the only thing fueling McAlister’s Deli® continued success—the brand also offers its franchisees a simple business model and strong support system that includes the backing of FOCUS Brands®, a leading developer of global foodservice brands.

“On the corporate level, everything that we do is designed to set our franchisees up for success. Between guiding them through the grand opening process and making ourselves accessible to lend a helping hand whenever needed, our top priority is ensuring that the McAlister’s Deli® model is working in every market it calls home,” said Sturgis. “By helping our franchisees reach their full potential, whether they’re single or multi-unit operators, we’re helping position the McAlister’s Deli® brand for continued growth in the long run.”

With more than 400 restaurants operating in a wide variety of communities across the U.S., it’s clear that McAlister’s Deli® is catching on among consumers and business owners alike. And by partnering with aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners looking to diversify their portfolios in Northern Virginia, the brand is positioned for ongoing and rapid success.

“Our franchisees are ultimately the driving force behind our successful expansion initiatives. That’s why our strong support system is such an integral part of our franchise system—we want our local owners to receive the best possible advantages in today’s ever evolving restaurant industry,” said Sturgis. “As we continue to work towards our goal of further expanding into Virginia by opening up new restaurants in the Northern part of the state, we plan to further our longstanding tradition of providing our franchisees with the tools and resources that they need to exceed their own expectations.”

Experienced Multi-Unit Franchise Owners are Choosing McAlister’s Deli® as Next Brand to Grow With

Survey of new franchisees shows a passion for the brand, a focus on community and a commitment to a positive return on investment.

Franchisees of multiple brands, including – Wendy’s, Denny’s, Long John Silver’s, Dunkin Donuts, Five Guys, Taco Bell and Wing Stop – have recently decided to develop McAlister’s Deli® alongside their current portfolio of brands. As experienced multi-unit operators, they all shared a desire to grow their respective brand portfolios and came to the same conclusion – adding McAlister’s Deli® to their portfolio would be a smart investment decision.

With so many restaurant franchise investment options to choose from, we asked each of them why they chose McAlister’s Deli® and what they like about being a McAlister’s Deli® franchisee. Following is a summary of their responses:

  • They believe McAlister’s Deli® is the right size system to attract seasoned multi-unit operators. Operators have the opportunity to grow, and the concept runs well because of the nearly 30 year history of operating success.
  • They listed the most rewarding features of being McAlister’s Deli® franchise owners as room for growth, unit level economics, sense of community in each location, high quality food, guests’ love for the brand and creating opportunities for employees to grow in their food service careers.
  • They were attracted to McAlister’s Deli® because of its unique fast casual concept, decor and atmosphere, hospitality and culture, vision for the brand, healthy diverse menu, the sales to investment ratio, and location availability.
  • They report that the McAlister’s Deli® support staff lived up to their commitment that was presented with the franchise opportunity. An area of support highlighted includes the use of a customer analytics and real estate modeling tool that helps determine appropriate McAlister’s Deli® locations. They also appreciate that grand opening support is thorough and believe the projections/benchmarks are helpful while they are trying to get started. They like the tools made available to them that help monitor their restaurants remotely, which is critical when operating multiple units. With the level of support that McAlister’s Deli® offers, it’s clear to them that the company has actively adjusted their support program to offer what franchisees need. This is why it was important for them to invest in a well-established concept.
  • McAlister’s Deli® culture was described as highly hospitable, friendly, genuine, community oriented and fun, with a focus on guests coming first.
  • They believe their customers love McAlister’s Deli® because of its quality food, McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, variety, competitive pricing, upscale yet comfortable environment, family friendly nature and hospitality.

With all of these accolades, it should come as no surprise that they all would recommend a McAlister’s Deli® franchise to someone considering the opportunity. So, have you considered the opportunity? Fill out the form below if you’re ready to get started.

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