Lenny's News and Interviews
The Commercial Appeal - Lenny's founder's plate overflowing with plansJune 23, 2005
By Maria Burnham
June 23, 2005
In 1998, after a lifetime in the restaurant business, Len Moore opened his own sandwich shop in Bartlett and named it, simply, Lenny's.
In 2004, he decided to retire and sold the majority ownership to former Gate Gourmet executive George Alvord and a group of private local investors.
About eight weeks later, he decided life on the beach wasn't all it was cracked up to be and began franchising stores for the company he started.
Now he's decided to go whole hoagie and has signed an agreement to open 80 Lenny's stores in the Houston area with his family and his business partner, Tom Clatterbuck. The stores are expected to bring in more than $600 million for the Lenny's Sub Shop system.
"I called George and said I'd like to open a few Lenny's," Moore said. "A few more ... turned into more than 80."
Moore, Clatterbuck and their company, CLM Franchise Consultants, plan to open 15 of the 80 and sell franchises for the rest.
They've already opened their first Lenny's in the Houston area and hope to have seven by the end of the year.
Moore's significant re-entry into the company comes at a time when Lenny's has saturated the Southeast and is preparing for a national assault.
Moore's announcement was coupled
with the news that 22 stores will open in three cities -- Birmingham, Jonesboro, Ark., and Little Rock -- over the next five years.
And it follows April's announcement that Dynamic Growth Partners would open 123 Lenny's locations in Florida over the next 15 years.
In total, it has 300 stores in the process of opening and plans for 500 by 2008. It has 23 already open in the Memphis market.
Despite the unusually large numbers and quick succession of announcements, Alvord said it is all planned growth.
"We are not just growing for growth's sake."
It is common for up-and-coming chains to look for area-wide franchisees like Lenny's has done, but that can be a dangerous kind of growth, said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a food service consulting and market research firm in Chicago.
"You have to be careful to not make mistakes," Paul said.
And the two key areas where mistakes can be made are: where to franchise and where to place stores. Both are problems that helped sink Krispy Kreme, another Southern chain that expanded rapidly.
But while doughnuts are on the outs with an increasingly health-conscious population, sandwiches are in, Paul said.
"(Consumers) are often after the fresh foods that are somewhat customized for them. And there is a perception that fresh is healthier. Subway is promoting that and it's helping the industry."
Fresh is what Lenny's prides itself on -- bread is baked fresh each morning and meat is sliced fresh to order. Moore said he founded the company to be the antithesis of everything he hated about the restaurant industry, including prepackaged food and impersonality of service.
A detailed brochure for franchisees explains the concept, from food to the reasoning behind the size of the hot food pickup window. (It's only large enough to hold two hot sandwiches, forcing the food to move quickly from the cook to the guest.)
The Lenny's deli-style sub shop concept may be simple, but there's a lot of thought behind it, Alvord said. And the success of the brand can be seen in the willingness of franchisees to pick up and move from a city they've lived in for most of their lives to a new market just to open a Lenny's.
"That still amazes me," he said.
Lenny's Sub Shop
Founder: Len Moore
Chief Executive: George Alvord
Headquarters: 8295 Tournament Drive, Suite 200
Number of restaurants: 63, with store 64 set to open in Hernando next week
Number of local employees: 400, including franchisees and corporate
Web site: lennyssubshop.com
Copyright 2005, commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN. All Rights Reserved.
Contact Lenny's Public Relations:Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager