First Watch, through a new franchise agreement, plans to open a dozen locations in Charlotte, N.C. and the Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C. markets in the next five years.
The east Manatee County-based breakfast, brunch and lunch chain signed a franchise development agreement with Good Morning Carolinas LLC, a subsidiary of Houston Pizza Venture, according to a release. Houston Pizza Venture currently operates more than 85 restaurants, the release adds, including Papa John's, Genghis Grill, Surefire Tacos and Firehouse Subs.
Houston Pizza Venture, founded in 1994 by Pizza Hut co-founder Frank Carney and the late Jack Laughery, former CEO and chairman of Hardee's, is one of the largest Papa John's franchises in the system. It has been awarded Papa John's Franchise of the Year twice and Operator of the Year once. Houston Pizza Venture is now led by Keith Sullins, onetime vice president of people and communications at Waffle House.
Good Morning Carolinas will focus its growth efforts on the casual dining segment, with its initial First Watch opening planned for 2017 in Columbia, S.C. That location would be First Watch's first South Carolina location, according to the corporate website. All of the Good Morning Carolinas restaurants will feature First Watch's 'Urban Farm' design and revamped menu.
“When we consider new concepts and opportunities at Houston Pizza Venture, we focus on talent and culture, accompanied by great unit-level economics and most importantly, great food,” Houston Pizza Venture CEO said Keith Sullins says in a statement. “Spending time in First Watch restaurants, meeting with their team and understanding their business, it was clear that this would be a fantastic partnership.”
First Watch has more than 275 restaurants in 26 states, including more than 190 First Watch restaurants, 100 The Egg & I restaurants, one The Good Egg restaurant in Arizona and one Bread & Co. restaurant in Nashville.