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Restaurant Experts Launch Twisted Kitchen Franchise; Give Entrepreneurs the Chance to Leverage a Flexible and Affordable Millennial-Focused Concept in the Booming Fast Casual Industry

With a proven business model, a franchisee-focused culture and the backing of Goliath Consulting, the one-of-a-kind pasta, salad and wrap franchise is looking to sign three franchise agreements and open two units by the end of 2024.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 7:19PM 01/16/24

At first glance, it was Twisted Kitchen’s tantalizing flavors and its beloved local reputation that caught the attention of seasoned investors Shane Cawthon and his brother Trent. Recognizing the potential of the Atlanta-based pasta and salad franchise, the two were eager to add it to their investment portfolio. Little did they know, their journey with the brand was just getting started. Thrust into a make-or-break situation, they found themselves at the helm of the entire ship, with the weight of the Twisted Kitchen’s legacy and potential squarely on their shoulders. They weren’t just investors anymore — they were owners. But, fueled by a deep passion for the concept and a true belief in the business model, the Cawthons were ready to double down. 

Now, after bringing in the impressive team of franchise and restaurant industry experts at Goliath Consulting Group, Twisted Kitchen is ready to expand across the country, aiming to sign three franchise agreements and open two locations by the end of 2024. 

"Every twist in our story has led us to this pivotal moment,” said Shane, who now serves as President of Twisted Kitchen. “We’ve seen the strength of this business model and we’ve brought on people who understand why this is such an exciting concept. I’m even considering opening a franchise location of my own. With so much infrastructure and franchisee support being added every day, now is the ideal time to join the Twisted Kitchen family.”

Twisted Kitchen’s History

Established in 2009 in Marietta, Georgia, Twisted Kitchen set out to offer guests an enjoyable spot where they could watch their food being freshly prepared. The restaurant showcases a unique blend of flavors, serving up dishes with a "twist" — from pasta bowls to salads and wraps. It swiftly gained popularity, especially among Kennesaw State University college students and the local community.

In 2014, the Cawthon brothers saw the popularity of Twisted Kitchen in Marietta and decided to passively invest in the business, similar to how they had done with many ventures in the past, including Rocky Ridge Vans and Trucks and A.L.C. Manufacturing, Inc.

“Our initial involvement in Twisted Kitchen was born out of a lunch meeting with a friend of a friend who was seeking investors for the franchise,” said Shane. “We were seasoned investors across various industries, so we were intrigued by the concept. We decided to give it a try and quickly developed a liking for the concept.”

Around this time, the second Twisted Kitchen location opened in 2015 in Midtown Atlanta and a third location opened in late 2021. 

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Unforeseen challenges eventually led the Cawthons to face a critical decision. With the previous owners gone, they had to choose between shutting down the venture and losing everything they had invested or taking the bold step to grow it. Never ones to shy away from a risk, they chose the latter. But, without any restaurant experience between them, the Cawthon brothers knew they couldn’t reinvigorate the Twisted Kitchen brand all on their own. So, they brought in the Goliaths of restaurant growth.

Goliath Consulting Group is an experienced and trusted consulting firm that works with independent restaurants, restaurant groups and chains to help them grow to the next level and give them the best chance to succeed as possible. 

Reggie Coachman, for example, is Chief Consulting Officer at Goliath. Having spent his entire career in the restaurant world, Coachman brings over 35 years of leadership roles with massive franchise brands, including several executive roles at Focus Brands with Cinnabon as Vice President of Brand Operations and Schlotzsky’s as Vice President of Franchise Operations. He’s also held prominent operations roles as EVP and COO of major fast-casual concepts and a hospitality management company specializing in airport concessions. 

“My experience really spans both sides of the franchising equation — I’ve owned my own restaurant franchise and I’ve also worked on the franchisor side,” said Coachman. “My perspective on the relationship between franchisors and franchisees, which is built on the principle of prioritizing people over contracts, has been instrumental in my career.”

Now, Coachman and the rest of the Goliath team are ready to leverage that unparalleled industry experience to help the Cawthon brothers usher in a new era of growth for the Twisted Kitchen franchise. 

How Twisted Kitchen Streamlines and Innovates Upon the Fast Casual Model

Just like the brand’s commitment to putting a twist on its menu, the Twisted Kitchen franchise model isn’t like every other fast casual restaurant out there. At the heart of the franchise is a concept that aims to distinguish itself within a competitive industry. 

“In the restaurant business, the first box you have to check is good food and the second box is the structure of the franchise system,” Coachman said. “Twisted Kitchen excelled in both categories.”

For one, Twisted Kitchen offers a truly simplified operational model, which boasts versatile labor and real estate requirements compared to other concepts in the fast casual space. “The franchise can efficiently run with just two to four employees,” said Coachman. “This flexibility ensures that labor costs remain manageable, even during busy periods.” 

Coachman notes that Twisted Kitchen can also thrive in nontraditional locations, which is a massive advantage for a fast casual concept. The team is currently exploring opportunities in airports, other travel centers, and corporate dining. 

“We definitely want to explore some non-traditional locations moving forward,” Coachman said. “Twisted Kitchen fits well into the urban foot court model. There are definitely opportunities to succeed outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar footprint.”

And while operations may be simple, the brand isn’t skimping on quality. Unlike traditional freezer-to-fryer concepts, Twisted Kitchen focuses on providing fresh, healthy meal options. Customers can customize their orders, catering to the "Me Society" prevalent among Millennials and Gen Z, Shane says, who seek personalized dining experiences.

“You can experiment — guests love that they can come in and add a twist to their usual order,”  said Shane. “We sauté everything fresh to order and guests can watch the entire meal being prepared in front of them, making adjustments along the way. In today’s world of food shows and food influencers, that experiential component is a big selling point.”

Similarly, Twisted Kitchen strives to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. It offers plant-based items and continuously collaborates with vendors and industry experts to expand their menu offerings.

But the Twisted team knows it's not just about the customer. When it comes to support, the brand’s commitment to fostering positive relationships with franchisees is just as strong. Incoming franchise owners and their key manager attend classroom and restaurant training in all areas of the business — including site selection, marketing, hiring, operations, etc. — before opening the restaurant.

“Once franchisees come on, we connect them with operations consultants, training managers and vendor contracts to help with marketing, PR, construction and legal — we have addressed every franchisee support need,” said Coachman. “Goliath has a 250-point checklist for new restaurant openings, and we are constantly opening restaurants across our portfolio, so that makes it easier for a partner like Twisted Kitchen. Those established systems are already in place even though it is an emerging brand.”

The total investment necessary to begin operation of a Twisted Kitchen franchise is

$341,000 to $632,200, including a $35,000 franchise fee. The total investment necessary to begin operation under a three- to five-unit Multi-Unit Development Agreement (including the first unit) is $377,000 to $695,000, including $70,000 to $105,000 that must be paid to the franchisor.

“When you think about the other restaurant brands you can franchise, this is not one that requires a million dollars to get your doors open,” said Coachman. “You can get into a Twisted Kitchen for less than half a million dollars and potentially see the type of revenue that restaurants requiring a more expensive buy-in can achieve. That is really appealing.”

Why Now Is the Time to Get Twisted

So, who is the ideal Twisted Kitchen franchise owner? Well, Coachman says, that depends.

“This model really works for two kinds of franchisees: small, local owner-operators or mature, multi-unit, semi-absentee investors,” said Shane. “The ideal candidate for us is someone who wants to enter the restaurant world as an entrepreneur — they have the business skills, but maybe not the restaurant skills. But we are also looking for mature franchisees who have built out their portfolio and are looking for a new concept. The beauty of the concept is that either type of franchise owner can thrive.”

In fact, Shane himself says he plans to open a Twisted Kitchen in his own town, marking his transition into an active owner-operator role. That journey is a major testament to the strength of the Twisted Kitchen business model and the passion the concept inspires. Despite initial uncertainties, Shane has enough experience as an investor to know when he sees an exciting opportunity, and franchising with Twisted Kitchen is just that. 

Looking ahead, the Twisted Kitchen team is focusing their growth efforts in Georgia, the Carolinas and the Southeast U.S. in order to stay closer to their home-base of Atlanta. The plan is to bring in 30 prospects, close three deals and finalize two openings by the end of 2024.

Overall, Twisted Kitchen's unique concept, paired with an attractive investment model and the support of an expert leadership team, offers an exciting proposition for entrepreneurs looking to embark on a restaurant franchise adventure. 

“Having been involved in some of the biggest restaurant franchises in the world, Twisted Kitchen's promise is truly exceptional,” said Coachman. “It's clear that this franchise has the ingredients for success and we’re ready to partner with qualified, passionate franchisees to help us bring this concept to communities everywhere. The time has never been better to come aboard and get 'Twisted' with us.”

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