Investors often complain that it is difficult to understand most offerings because the presentations are confusing. “Often times we find ourselves breaking down complex offerings so that our clients can grasp what are actually being offered. But, there is nothing easier to conceptually grasp than a restaurant – or chain of restaurants. And when the numbers are simply shown for franchise fast-casual restaurant projects the opportunity can’t be ignored, said Joe Sloboda, Vice President of Exclusive Visas, a South Florida EB-5 Consultancy
And while the restaurant business has always carried its share of risk the fast-casual franchise sector continues to set records – records so profound that corporate America has embraced Fast-Casual Restaurant Chains as profitable investments. And why shouldn’t they be?
Fast Casual Restaurant Chains are attractive investments because they they tend to open in markets with better demographics, have a higher profile with people who spend money; are easy to scale and locate typically taking up 2,000 square feet or less; and are fairly inexpensive to build (compared to full-service and fast food restaurants).
But other characteristics make them even more attractive as investments. Fast casual restaurants require much less variety in the way of menu ingredients allowing managers to control food costs and spoilage better; they employ a smaller team to produce larger quantities of food; they are more productive while providing high wages to permanent employees; and their concepts are typically edgier and more creative making them more attractive to the younger generation, according to Jack Flechner, President of the Florida Restaurant Franchise Group (FRFG), operator of VooDoo BBQ & Grill and Twin Peaks restaurant chains. “They’re profitable, easier to manage (than fast food or full service) because they’re smaller and require less labor, and require less effort to replicate so we can put up new units as soon as we identify good locations,” Mr. Flechner said.
Something else that really lends credibility to fast casual restaurant EB-5 projects is literally how difficult it is to obtain fast casual franchise rights. Because the business model is proven and stable franchisees must provide strong financials and documented cash flow in order to obtain franchise rights. “No one enters the fast casual franchise business without passing muster of corporate and that’s a pretty high bar both financially and commitment-wise,” said Mr. Sloboda.
In addition to VooDoo BBQ & Grill and Twin Peaks EB-5 projects, the Florida Restaurant Franchise Group offers EB-5 franchise restaurant opportunities through the Palm Beach Regional Center. Operating in nine Florida Counties including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Regional Center is one of the few Regional Centers in the United States that can boast a 100% success rate on all previous I-526 petitions.
In addition to their popularity among investors Fast-Casual investment offerings have been very appealing to EB-5 agents, consultants, and immigration attorneys because they are a relatively small in volume, a good mix of developer cash and EB-5 funds, and because there is a history of approvals with the Regional Center on restaurant projects.