McAlister’s Deli is growing in Ohio. With nine restaurants currently open and several in development, the brand is represented in each of the major economic zones of the state. And there’s still room for more growth, particularly in Northeast Ohio, a current economic hotspot.
Founded in 1989 in Oxford, Mississippi, McAlister’s Deli has been active in Ohio for over ten years. In its fast casual segment, whose value is expected to reach a whopping $66.87 billion by 2020, McAlister’s Deli isn’t confined to one specific label. By serving top quality sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea, the brand is able to offer something for almost everyone. But its comprehensive menu isn’t the only thing that differentiates McAlister’s from the competition.
Loyal customers also know the brand across the country for its commitment to hospitality. Exceptional customer service is at the core of every McAlister’s location—from providing a near full-service dining experience to ensuring that meals are served with a smile, the brand goes above and beyond to create a family friendly environment and positive atmosphere. That focus on making every customer experience a great one has established a unique brand culture that is hard to find anywhere else. Except Northeast Ohio, a fact about which the brand is excited to change.
“Kiplinger just named Cleveland the number three fastest growing city in the US in terms of stability and economic growth,” said Tim Muir, Chief Development Officer of FOCUS Brands, owner of McAlister’s. “From a targeting standpoint, our goal is to continue to develop and build out Northeast Ohio. We are looking to get into the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown areas as well. We are actively looking for additional franchisees here.”
With over 400 restaurants in 28 states, McAlister’s has a system of local owners who are thriving in their local communities, including Ohio.
“Ohio overall is in our path of growth. It’s contiguous to where we have successful stores,” Muir said. “We have been in the Cincinnati market for over 10 years. As we look at our overall development footprint, we are well developed in Indiana and continue to grow, and we are also well developed in Kentucky and continue to grow there. Ohio adjoins those states, so it is a natural growth path for us.”
The brand has high levels of franchisee satisfaction and supports its owners throughout the entire franchising process. McAlister’s corporate team is in it together with its franchisees—from hands-on, immersive franchisee training that includes on-the-job experience in an existing McAlister’s restaurant to periodic visits from the brand’s franchise business consultants, the brand is actively involved in setting its local owners up for success. And with a comprehensive, system-wide approach to advertising, marketing and promotions, McAlister’s is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to spread the word about the brand’s unique concept.
Muir emphasizes that, although the brand is already active in Ohio, territories are still available.
“McAlister’s Deli is a brand that is well known because of our presence in surrounding markets that feed into Ohio. Cincinnati is well established, and our growth in Dayton just started two and a half years ago. Columbus opened three years ago, and Cleveland started last summer. We have momentum in this market.”
By working with franchisees to improve its system, McAlister’s is positioned for long-term success. The brand isn’t afraid to make positive changes—locations with the right real estate capability are now introducing a pick-up window, for example, to reach customers who want to enjoy McAlister’s on the go. McAlister’s also offers prospective business owners a simple business model at its core.. All menu items are made to order, but McAlister’s locations don’t have equipment like grills or fryers, making for a less complex operating format.
“We work hard every day to help our franchisees be profitable. Between our simple business model and established best practices, our local owners are automatically put in a position to make the most of the McAlister’s business ownership opportunity,” Muir concluded.