MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Executive Q&A with MOOYAH Brand President Doug Willmarth
Willmarth, who was promoted to president of MOOYAH in December after over four years of serving as chief brand officer, explains why the burger franchise beats out the competition.
1851 Franchise: Tell us a little about the history of MOOYAH.
Doug Willmarth: MOOYAH was started about 15 years ago by a serial restaurateur named Rich Hicks who went to try Five Guys in North Carolina and loved the idea but saw room for improvement and thought he could do better. So, he came back to Dallas and started MOOYAH, which is a burger company with the best ingredients, that you can customize the way you want. We have all these different buns, toppings and patty options, and you can build your own. That balance of quality and customization has driven the concept since the beginning and continues to be super important to us. Rich grew the company and sold it in 2017 to the current owners. They have always had the goal of really emphasizing growth for MOOYAH, and now we are scaling quickly.
1851: What void does MOOYAH fill in the marketplace?
Willmarth: We are committed to offering the best tasting cheeseburger in the world. That’s the vision. If we are in any given town and stop someone on the street and ask where you can get the best burger in town, they will tell you MOOYAH. We get there through a combination of three things. We start with the best ingredients available: super high quality angus beef, real cheese, fresh baked buns, daily cut vegetables. We hand craft every meal; there are no frozen burgers and no conveyor belt. We are hand cutting fries to order. We season and hand smash the meat. And our food is made exactly the way you want it. Our customization options are a pillar, where we allow you to decide exactly what you want.
1851: Why is now the time to join MOOYAH?
Willmarth: I think Americans right now are in a space where they are really starting to understand, especially the younger generation, that what you eat, the quality of ingredients and how it's prepared matters. One of our differentiators is that because of the custom creation options, we have gluten-free and keto choices and options for virtually everyone.
And burgers are America's favorite food. The category is number one in food service, but we occupy a specific place in the burger category. We want to have the best-tasting, most quality spot that gives franchise owners world-class support to take the brand to the next level. And our financial model is getting better every year, especially with the addition of the drive-throughs, so the return franchisees see is attractive.
1851: What are some milestones and successes you’ve recently had at MOOYAH?
Wilmarth: We have made some great additions to our executive team. We are really investing in the quality of the brand and product and dialing up support for franchise owners. MOOYAH is really excited about moving the brand towards additional convenience, with more/better online ordering, drive through prototypes and pickup windows.
We are also being very intentional, targeted and specific in our development. We have focused on a couple key areas where we want to grow, and we are aggressively building those areas out and have prime parcels available. At this moment in time, we are just opening up Phoenix, Houston and San Antonio, which are premium markets with first-tier spots.
1851: What are MOOYAH’s current growth goals?
Willmarth: In the last five years, we grew to about 94 locations, and then have stayed at that number for a while. With the new owners, we have invested in growing to an additional 20 locations over the next 12 months, and in the following years, we’ll add another 30 locations. So, we have significantly increased growth goals and we will get there by focusing on specific geographies and actively recruiting a certain type of franchisee.
1851: What Does MOOYAH look for in its ideal franchisee?
Willmarth: First and foremost, we want restaurateurs and people who understand the restaurant business. We are looking for people with a passion for the business; maybe someone who already operates restaurants and is looking to diversify or grow their business.
The investment range to open a MOOYAH is $551,918 to $715,161. Learn more about franchising with MOOYAH at https://franchise.mooyah.com/.
ABOUT MOOYAH BURGERS FRIES & SHAKES MOOYAH
MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is a fast-casual, “better burger” concept committed to providing the best tasting burger experience possible with mouthwatering made-to-order burgers, hand-cut French fries, and real ice cream shakes. Founded in 2007, Texas-based company serves fresh, 100% Certified Angus Beef® brand burgers, all natural turkey burgers, and Dr. Praeger’s black bean vegan burgers. MOOYAH’s signature potato and multigrain buns are baked in-house daily, and Guests can choose from five real cheeses, bacon, avocado and 19 free sauces and toppings made from garden-fresh veggies. MOOYAH Guests can choose from eight flavors of 100% real ice cream shakes, including vanilla, Hershey’s chocolate, Reese’s, Oreo and more. While many Guests dine in-restaurant, MOOYAH also offers online ordering, delivery and carry out for Guests on the go as well as a loyalty app.