Lenny's News and Interviews

Lenny’s sees more weekend, night sales at Peabody Place

January 15, 2010

Memphis Business Journal - by Andy Ashby

Downtown Memphis should be getting its second Lenny’s Sub Shop by April this year.

Local franchisees Tripp Williams and Lawson Fisher signed a five-year, 2,500-square-foot lease at 153 S. Main, a space which formerly held Blues City Pastry and Viking Culinary Arts.

The space is part of Belz Enterprises LLC’s Peabody Place development.

Williams and Fisher already own and operate five Lenny’s stores in Memphis, Little Rock and Millington. They used to own the Lenny’s store at the Falls Building Downtown before selling it a few years ago.

“This new store seemed like a good fit for that area,” Williams says. “We’ve had a lot of requests for a sub shop on that end of Downtown from people we know who work in that area.”

This store, which will employ 10-20 people, will be closer to attractions such as Beale Street, FedExForum and the Orpheum Theatre, allowing for better sales on weekends and nights, according to Williams.

The store, which is larger than the average 1,800-square-foot Lenny’s location, will also focus on catering for businesses and events Downtown.

“It gives us room to be able to do that,” Williams says.

Lenny’s Franchisor LLC president Brent Alvord says this new location will be one of the larger stores in the Lenny’s system.

Lenny’s senior director of finance and real estate Andrew Bryant dismissed the idea this new store could take business from the other Downtown location.

“We felt for a long time now that Downtown Memphis has a few submarkets in it,” Bryant says. “We felt there was an opportunity on the south side with the night and weekend traffic.”

The Falls Building store doesn’t get a lot of night and weekend business, although Bryant thinks the recently opened University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law building will give that location a boost.

The new Downtown store will have double-sided signage facing both Main and Peabody Place.

Overall, Lenny’s has more than 2,000 affiliated employees at 160 stores nationwide. It added and closed some stores in 2009, with a net loss of 10 stores, according to Alvord, but comparable store sales are down less than 1%.

“We had some challenges in that it’s tough for franchisees to get financing,” Alvord says. “People who were struggling but used to be able to tap into a home equity loan to get through any dry period can no longer do that.”

Lenny’s has also been challenged by national competitors Subway and Quizno’s introducing $5 menus.

“We have not had to go into the prices wars because we feel our food has value because it’s sliced fresh and you get a half pound of meat and cheese on a regular sandwich,” Alvord says. “We feel for us to be down slightly with all the chaos going on is a good thing.”

Lenny’s Franchisor is adding magnetic menu boards so menus can be changed easier. It’s also rolling out electronic ordering company-wide this month, so customers can order and pay for sandwiches via e-mail, and then just come in and pick them up. It has also added a new French Dip sandwich and is planning a customer loyalty program in 2010.

Heading into 2010, the company would like to see more unit financing, but that depends on financing and potential franchisees not being nervous about the economy, according to Alvord.

Franchises cost an average of $250,000, which includes architecture, construction, equipment and franchise fees.

Lenny’s Franchisor LLC
President: Brent H. Alvord
Address: 8295 Tournament Drive, Suite 200
Phone: (901) 753-4002
Web site: www.lennys.com

Contact Lenny's Public Relations:

Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager
(901) 753-4002