MANATEE COUNTY — First Watch, the fast-growing breakfast-brunch-lunch chain, is getting a new, and bigger, corporate headquarters.
The company will stay in the east Manatee County area. It will move about a mile away, to a Benderson Development corporate office park just west of the University Parkway exit of Interstate 75. Benderson is working with First Watch on a build-to-suit project for a 10,500-sqaure-foot space, First Watch Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tomasso told the Business Review. The company, which operates about 100 restaurants in 13 states, currently leases a 7,500-square-foot headquarters in Lakewood Ranch, east of Interstate 75.
“Our five-year growth plan is pretty aggressive,” says Tomasso. “This is about room for growth.”
First Watch, one of the largest privately owned daytime-only restaurant chains in the country, operates both corporate-owned and franchise stores. In addition to room for more corporate employees, the new headquarters will include a training room with space for at least 50 franchisees. Tomasso says the space will likely be ready by November.
With about 2,700 employees, First Watch has been growing rapidly. It opened locations in Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Lexington, Ky., in recent months. It hopes to have 115 restaurants open by the end of the year, and another 30 are in some stage of development. Revenues grew 12.4% in 2011, from $89 million in 2010 to $100 million. For more on First Watch, and a profile on longtime top executive Ken Pendery Jr., click here.