bannerFranchisor Stories

Togo’s Comes Out of 2020 Stronger Than Ever

The California-based sandwich franchise conquered a challenging year with a refreshing new restaurant model and a renewed commitment to its people and guests.

2020 was a year of innovation and renewed commitment to success and customer satisfaction for Togo’s.

The West Coast-originated, fresh-and-meaty sandwich concept has grown to nearly 200 locations since its founding in 1971. And despite the challenges the pandemic presented the restaurant industry as a whole, Togo’s managed to grow that number and add to its family of franchisees, opening 2 new locations and signing 14 new agreements, including a deal to open its first location in Nevada.

“Even with the challenges of COVID-19, Togo’s managed to have an impressive year in 2020,” said John Dyer, Director of Franchise sales and Real Estate for the brand. “Our newest franchisees saw the way we adapted the concept and recognized the strength behind our brand. They are optimistic about the future, and so are we. We're positioned to really do well in this new normal.” 

Like most restaurants in the industry, Togo’s faced initial setbacks due to the global pandemic. In April, the brand lost nearly all of its regular catering business when the working world moved out of the office and large gatherings came to a halt, causing a 45% decrease in sales. But that didn’t keep the brand from moving forward. In fact, Togo’s bounced back to see sales down only 4% in Q4 of 2020.

“It was certainly a rough start,” Dyer continued. “But we came together as a brand and committed ourselves to finding a solution that would not only keep the brand running as close to normal as possible, but would keep our franchisees open, operating and profitable. We’ve since turned our losses around and ended the year flat. When you consider that catering was almost a complete loss, that’s pretty impressive.”

It took a lot of creative thinking and commitment from Togo’s support center team and franchisees alike to navigate new consumer needs. “The consumer behavior transformed overnight as off site sales from online orders and third-party delivery doubled to nearly 30% of sales,” said Farid Biglari, Senior Director of Operations at Togo’s. “Fortunately, our new Speedline operating model was built for the offsite business, so our stores were able to easily handle the dramatic increase. We quickly supported our franchisees with enhanced operating systems to best handle connecting with customers through online ordering for takeout and curbside pickup, in addition to third-party delivery services.” 

All while holding strong to its honest-to-goodness roots, the fast-casual brand spent the last year continuing to revamp and remodel its restaurants with its Togo’s 3.0 model. The innovative new look and design not only streamlined the sandwich-making process, it put an emphasis on making off-premise service much quicker and efficient as well — an add that’s proven to be incredibly valuable during the pandemic.

“We’ve analyzed everything from product offerings to vendor partnerships to technology to restaurant layout, and we feel great about where Togo's is headed in relation to the new normal,” said Biglari. “The landscape of the industry will be very different coming out of COVID-19, and we’ve been working hard to ensure that our restaurants are cost-effective for franchisees and create an unmatched experience for our guests.”

Dyer is confident the brand will push forward on its momentous journey upward in 2021. With deals already signed to expand outside of California with locations in Nevada, Togo’s is focused on expanding in key markets across Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington this year.

“After a year like 2020, Togo’s has nowhere to go but up. With all we’ve learned, I look forward to all of the opportunities that will present themselves in 2021 — especially as more and more real estate starts to open up. We’re expecting a banner year,” said Dyer.

The current initial investment for Togo’s franchise ranges from $268,000 to $501,500, which includes a $15,000 to $30,000 franchise fee. For more information, visit