WHY I BOUGHT
After 50 Years, the Abbott Family is Continuing to Grow with Fosters Freeze
The Abbotts own five locations in Monterey County and are currently building a brand new prototype for Fosters Freeze in North Salinas.
To many people, the name Fosters Freeze conjures up sepia-toned memories of after-school soft serve or Little League celebrations. The ice cream and burger franchise, which was established in California in 1946 and grew to more than 300 locations across the West Coast at its height, has been a fan favorite for generations, but until recently, the brand’s corporate team had done little to encourage growth, and the franchise system languished.
Brothers Neal and Nimesh Dahya, who built a franchisee empire with some of the biggest names in foodservice, including Applebee’s, IHOP, Burger King, Pizza Hut and TGI Fridays, purchased Fosters Freeze just five years ago, and already the brand is showing impressive growth. With 66 restaurants currently open for business, sales across the system have increased every year since the brothers arrived — including a whopping 20% year-over-year jump from 2019 to 2020, on top of five previous years of growth.
This year, one of Foster Freeze’s most tenured franchisees, a five-unit owner whose family has been with the brand for more than 50 years, decided to take advantage of the heightened support by opening a new store in Salinas, California. That five-unit franchise owner is Dacara Inc., which is owned by the Abbott family.
“I was born and raised in Fosters Freeze,” said Bruce Abbott. “My parents bought our original location in 1955, and I started working there when I was 16 handling basic janitorial duties. I worked my way up the ladder, and, after graduating from college with a business degree, started working on the management side before becoming the owner in 1985. Now, I am the CFO of our franchise group.”
Bruce’s son, Jared, was also born and raised in Fosters Freeze. “I went to work with my father as a kid more often than I stayed home,” said Jared. “I started off as a cashier and worked the drive-thru until I went off to college. When I came back after graduating with a degree in business administration, I became the operations officer of our franchise group in 2010 and started managing our Santa Cruz location. Eventually, I became the chief operations officer, managed a couple more stores, and then became the chief executive officer of Dacara Inc.”
The Abbotts own five locations in Monterey County and are currently building a brand new prototype for Fosters Freeze in North Salinas. The new location will be the first ground-up Fosters Freeze in almost 30 years.
When it comes to the Abbotts’ success, Bruce notes that it all comes down to one thing: the food. “The biggest differentiators for Fosters Freeze are our high-quality products and the consistency that we offer customers,” he said. “In addition, we are in a very touristy area, so we have a ton of foot traffic, and our restaurants are in some of the best sites in the area. Still, we are in very competitive areas, and our company has had to work hard from day one to stand out.”
Jared also agrees that the exceptional consumer offering has been a huge aspect of the franchisee’s success. “We are confident that we offer the best soft serve ice cream in the industry, and we’ve always created a standard above everyone else, even back when soft serve wasn’t classified as real ice cream,” he said. “This quality makes a big difference in the fast food industry, and the public can taste the difference. I’ve been working in the store since I was a kid, but I still love the product.”
In addition to the consistent and high-quality product, both Bruce and Jared are hands-on owners and to this day are very involved in the operations to ensure that employees know how to provide the best customer experience.
“My grandparents brought their grandchildren into the business to make sure that our restaurant maintained its same high level of experience, which really sets us apart from a business and consumer standpoint, as customers don't get that from other places,” said Jared. “Since we’ve been in the area for so long, there is such great nostalgia surrounding Fosters Freeze, the quality of the product and the customer experience. That brand recognition and following really sets us apart.”
After three generations, Bruce notes that every member of the Abbott family has been extremely involved in the community. Most recently, they have been very active in the softball community as Monica Abbott, another member of the family, is a professional softball star and one of the biggest players in the world.
Bruce notes that there may be similar restaurants out there, but for him, nothing will ever compare to Fosters Freeze. “You can be a franchisee at any concept, but at the end of the day, you have to love the brand and the product or else you won’t succeed,” he said. “If you don’t believe in the product as a franchisee, your operations will suffer and you won’t reach your full potential as a leader. Fosters Freeze is a family business for us, and we are excited to continue growing with the brand.”
The initial investment to begin operation of a single, stand-alone Fosters Freeze restaurant ranges from $611,500 and $1,009,000. The total investment necessary to begin operation of a single confections restaurant is $178,000 to $331,500. The initial investment needed to open a single co-located restaurant is $329,500 to $658,500. For more information on franchising with Fosters Freeze, please visit https://www.fostersfreeze.com/franchise/.