In 1971, the first Togo’s restaurant—a small sandwich shack serving oversized sandwiches—was opened by a college student in San Jose, California. Since then, the size and scope of the brand have exploded, with Togo’s locations dotting dozens of markets across eight states on the West Coast. Even as the franchise looks toward establishing new markets further east, Togo’s is determined to make the most of their high profile back home in California. To that end, Togo’s has announced plans for large-scale expansion effort in the Los Angeles market.
Mike Norcup, Togo’s vice president of franchise sales, sees Los Angeles as an essential component of the brand’s overall growth strategy.
“LA is an important piece of the puzzle,” Norcup said. “Because we started in California and have such an enthusiastic customer base there, we have a sort of home-town-hero status that other brands can’t compete with. A persistent priority of our growth strategy is to maintain and grow that ownership.”
Despite their dominance in California markets, Norcup said Togo’s has a lot of room to grow in Los Angeles, where customers who know the brand are eager to find more accessible locations.
“The most attractive aspect of LA as a market for growth is that it’s underserved relative to our brand awareness there. We have customers clamoring for more Togo’s restaurants in LA. It’s rare to have so much room for growth in a market where your brand is already so well established.”
According to Norcup, much of the consumer excitement around Togo’s is due to the brand’s dedication to fresh, high-quality ingredients, which has become a crucial selling point in the increasingly health-conscious market.
“Everyone is trying to do a little better with their diets every year,” said Norcup. “And that goes double in LA. As that trend continues, Togo’s becomes an even more attractive proposition. Everything we serve is fresh, nothing is greasy or frozen. You can see and taste the difference, and that has become very important to customers.”
Los Angeles also provides a diverse pool of candidates for new Togo’s owners, something Norcup is excited to take advantage of.
“Every type of person is in LA, from 30-year olds who have saved up enough to start their own business to older, more seasoned entrepreneurs who are looking to add to their business portfolio. We love to have a broad spectrum of personalities and backgrounds running our stores. As we improve our operations, we are always looking to work with our franchisees, so it helps to have a diversity of perspectives on that level.”
In addition to new Togo’s owners, Norcup is eager to help existing owners in Los Angeles expand their operations.
“We’re always looking to bring on new owners, but we’re just as excited to help our existing owners in the area grow their business,” said Norcup. “When Togo’s owners open new units, they bring their knowledge and experience with them, and it’s fun to see our franchisees grow the business and see their dreams come to fruition.”
The startup costs to open a Togo’s range from $274,000 to $508,700, and Togo’s development team is focused on finding owners who can make that investment and are passionate about the product, whether those owners are new to the brand or longtime partners.
“The most essential quality in any owner is a passion for the brand and the product,” Norcup said. “The business does not require restaurant expertise, through our training programs the operations are simple enough to learn, so we are really looking for people who love our sandwiches as much as we do and are excited to grow with the brand.”