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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jul. 26, 2019 4 weeks ago

Fast-casual chain plans more restaurants in Florida

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Nick Vojnovic of Little Greek Franchise Development says the state’s growth and tourist traffic spells an opportunity for high sales.

Bring on the baklava.

Little Greek Fresh Grill is moving forward on plans to expand in the Sunshine State.

The Tampa-based company wants to open new locations on the east and west coast of Florida. The fast-casual Greek restaurant already has locations in six states — Florida, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.  

Nick Vojnovic, president and majority partner of Little Greek Franchise Development, tells Coffee Talk its Florida locations perform well. With the state’s growth as well as the tourist traffic, there’s an opportunity for high sales, he says.

The company has seen success at its Lakewood Ranch location, according to Vojnovic, and is thinking about expanding in Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples. It’s also looking at Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, plus there are already plans for more Orlando area locations. Vojnovic, who served as president of Beef 'O' Brady's for 12 years, says, “We would love to continue the strong growth in the Florida market.”

So far this year, Little Greek has opened three restaurants. There are four more under construction that are expected to open in 2019. Vojnovic says the company will hopefully see more openings in 2020 as well.

Little Greek focuses on fast-growth markets, he says. It tends to cluster restaurants on the coast where there are higher-income consumers and the demographics match the restaurant better, Vojnovic says.

The company is looking for potential franchisees now for its new locations. The average investment for a Little Greek restaurant is $150,000 to $350,000, he says.

Among its current franchisees, 40% have more than store and 60% are from another country, Vojnovic says.

Location-wise, it prefers to move into spaces that already served as a restaurant before. Those spaces are quicker and cheaper to open as Little Greek restaurants, Vojnovic says. In choosing new locations, it targets areas that have solid residential and business components along with busy shopping centers with stores such as Publix and Target.

“The riskiest stores are the first ones in new markets,” Vojnovic says. For those, the company looks for franchisees with more experience. “If you’re the first store in Atlanta or something, it’s just a trickier deal.”

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