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How One BBQ Franchise Has Survived — and Thrived — During COVID-19

Despite closing 8 of its 12 units, Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue has seen a 50-percent sales increase since March.

As states across the country begin to reopen, most franchise brands, particularly foodservice franchises, are looking toward a long journey of recouping losses sustained over the past few months, but there are some notable exceptions — brands that saw strong sales numbers throughout the pandemic and are able to hit the ground running as the economy reopens. Might Quinn’s Barbecue, the fast-casual BBQ concept out of New York, is one such franchise.

According to a QSR Magazine article published Monday, Mighty Quinn’s has seen sales increase by 50 percent since the pandemic arrived in the U.S., even as eight of the franchises 12 units remained closed.

The franchise attributes those unlikely gains to a focus on delivery and takeout operations that began years before the arrival of COVID-19. As the economy reopens, Mighty Quinn’s CEO and co-founder Micha Magid says he expects the trend toward off-premise service to continue.

“I think the dining rooms, despite social distancing, will actually be shrinking,” Magid says. “You just don’t need the number of seats anymore. And that was a trend we saw moving pre-pandemic with the shift to off-premise dining. So I think we’ll still focus on areas that have worked for us historically, but we’ll be thinking about logistics of deliver couriers, the number of dining room seats that are actually needed to hit sales numbers, and in addition, how we can become part of the community in a way that’s supportive. Obviously just being a restaurant that’s providing food, but also participate in things like support structures of those neighborhoods like hospitals, community centers.

Though Mighty Quinn’s has found success relative to the vast majority of restaurants throughout the pandemic, the closure of restaurants has remained a dire challenge for the franchise, but while Magid says he is eager for all of the franchise’s units to reopen, he’s hoping legislatures will proceed with caution.

“We recognize, even when you read the paper, the people who are in charge of understanding this virus are giving us new information each week,” Magid says. “If you’re a politician that’s digesting this hourly flow of new information, I think you have to operate with an abundance of caution. Because the worst outcome would be reopening the economy and then having to shut it in the fall with a spike in infections. That would be the worst-case scenario. It’s not pleasant and it’s something that’s going to hurt across the board economically, but I think that operating with an abundance of caution and extending the lockdown for an additional 30 days far outweighs the pain that would be caused by shutting down the economy again.”

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