What is in this article?:
- Ground Round pursues aggressive growth, overhaul
- Ground Round Sports Grille
President and CEO Jack Crawford said the brand will begin to open in nontraditional locations.
Nearly 10 years after being purchased out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by its franchisees, casual-dining chain Ground Round once again is plotting a growth trajectory that could boost its unit count by almost 50 percent over the next several years.
The 27-unit chain also is rolling out a new prototype, as well as a smaller sports-themed concept, that will allow it to open in nontraditional sites, according to Jack Crawford, president and chief executive of the Freeport, Maine-based Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative.
Crawford said Ground Round — which was spun off from the iconic Howard Johnson’s hotel and restaurant brand in 1969 — signed two multiunit development agreements in recent months. Recreation Centers LLC agreed to open five units in New Jersey, while GR Minnesota signed a deal to open eight locations over the next 10 years in the Minneapolis and St. Paul markets.
“We’ve got about 15 stores in the pipeline,” Crawford said of the franchisee-run business. “The brand is doing well. I can see 40 locations open by 2015.”
He said four or five of those restaurants are expected to open in 2013.
Meanwhile, Ground Round is planning to debut its new prototype in Waconia, Minn., at the end of January. Crawford said the 4,700-square-foot building features exterior and interior upgrades, such as added stonework to the exterior design and a new color scheme and other décor changes in the restaurant’s two themed dining rooms. One room caters to family dining, while the second is designed as a sports lounge.
The two dining areas can seat about 215, split evenly between them and at the bar. The restaurant also includes extension party tables that allow for group gatherings.
Not factoring in the price of the land, the new prototype costs about $1.8 million to build, Crawford said. Franchisees also have the option to renovate an existing building. “We’ve already done a lot of conversions,” he said. “We can take an existing building and renovate it for between $400,000 and $600,000. It’s a much smaller investment.”