This October, Iowa’s first McAlister’s Deli® restaurant opened in West Des Moines. Owned by the brand’s largest franchisee, the Dallas-based Saxton Group, the new McAlister’s has already found a wide customer base, and the McAlister’s development team is planning to replicate that success throughout the Midwest with additional restaurant openings from new franchisees.
McAlister’s success in Iowa comes as no surprise to McAlister’s corporate team, who have been carefully extending their reach throughout the Midwest for years. According to Paul Macaluso, the brand president, McAlister’s popularity in the Midwest is due in large part to their hearty menu.
“McAlister’s is known for our sandwiches but what really draws in guests is our menu packed with variety. We have wholesome and hearty menu options, from sandwiches to spuds, which translate very well in Midwest markets,” said Macaluso. “As long as we continue to provide craveable food, we’re going to continue to see happy guests.”
The West Des Moines location also likely benefits from increased brand awareness fostered by the brand’s growth in nearby Midwestern cities.
“We’ve already seen just how well our concept resonates with customers throughout the region,” Macaluso said. “And historically, we’ve seen that McAlister’s does best when we expand around the edges of where we’re already strong. So as we grow our footprint in states like Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, we’re finding that brand awareness expands outward, as does demand for our product.”
To ensure strong openings, McAlister’s rolls out a slate of marketing initiatives and promotions for each new restaurant’s grand opening. The West Des Moines McAlister’s offered complimentary entrees for three hours the day before opening, and on its opening day the first 50 customers in line received a $50 gift card and limited-edition t-shirt. Those promotions garnered a lot of attention from the local press and created a strong buzz around the new restaurant.
The brand’s marketing efforts are just one of the ways the McAlister’s Deli development team supports franchisees. Macaluso said that the franchise’s entire model is built around franchisee success.
“Our franchisees are ultimately the driving force behind our successful expansion initiatives,” said Macaluso. “That’s why our strong support system is such an integral part of our franchise system, we want our local owners to receive the best possible advantages in today’s ever-evolving restaurant industry.”
To make sure restaurant owners have those advantages, McAlister’s offers a range of focused support services, including hands-on training in existing McAlister’s stores pre-opening and periodic visits from franchisee business consultants post-opening.
“On the corporate level, everything that we do is designed to set up our franchisees for success,” said Macaluso. “Between guiding them through the grand opening process and making ourselves accessible to lend a helping hand whenever needed, our top priority is ensuring that the McAlister’s model is working in every market it calls home. By helping our franchisees reach their full potential, whether they’re single or multi-unit operators, we’re helping position the McAlister’s brand for continued growth in the long run.”
Macaluso is confident that the franchise’s commitment to comprehensive franchisee support combined with the West Des Moines restaurant’s strong opening will attract new owners to operate more McAlister’s Delis throughout the Midwest, and he’s confident that the development team will have no problem finding qualified leads.
“Ultimately we’re just looking for smart, ambitious people who have a passion for the brand,” said Macaluso. “Our processes have been fine-tuned and are easily applied. I know we’re going to continue to find a lot of great new owners, and I’m excited to work with them."