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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 5 years ago

First on the watch

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First Watch, already one of the leading breakfast-brunch-lunch chains in the country, served up a stellar 2016.

First Watch, already one of the leading breakfast-brunch-lunch chains in the country, served up a stellar 2016.

Executives with the east Manatee County-based company gave a state of the company update at a recent industry conference in Orlando.

“First Watch has never been stronger or more relevant,” says CEO Ken Pendery in a statement. “Through our innovation efforts in the areas of menu and atmosphere, we fortified our core brand equity, further differentiated our concept and evolved in a way that is resonating with today's consumer. We strengthened our already segment-leading position, further widening the gap between us and our competitors.”

This comes on top of 2015, when the company reported $200 million in revenue, up 42.9% from 2014, when it had $140 million in sales. Pendery detailed several other First Watch achievements in 2016, including:

Positive comparable restaurant traffic and sales, marking 32 straight years of positive comparable restaurant sales growth;

Record average unit volumes, which have increased 22% over the past five years;

Opened 21 restaurants, including 15 company-owned locations and six franchised locations in existing markets and new markets, such as Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia;

Signed 10 partnerships with experienced, multi-unit franchise operators representing commitments for more than 100 new restaurants. Agreements will bring additional First Watch locations to new markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas; and

A successful conversion of 19 The Good Egg restaurants in Arizona and 18 The Egg & I restaurants in Dallas, Nashville and Birmingham to First Watch. First Watch acquired those brands in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

“As we look toward 2017 and beyond,” says Pendery, “we feel confident in our positioning and believe we have taken the necessary steps to build a solid foundation to maintain — and even accelerate — our positive momentum ensuring sustained growth and expansion.”

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