Louisiana chain expands to Florida; signs largest franchise deal in company history
VooDoo BBQ & Grill Franchise has reached an agreement to open 26 restaurants in Florida — a move that doubles the Louisiana-based company’s franchise locations and signals VooDoo’s emergence as a regional brand with national aspirations.
The Florida franchisee is BBQ Boyz LLC, owned and run by friends and neighbors Jack and Ilene Flechner, Fred Burgess and Joe and Barbara Sloboda in Broward County. The partners expect to open their first VooDoo restaurant in Miami within eight months and gradually work their way north into the remainder of their franchise territory.
The territory encompasses most of Florida, minus the Panhandle, and will have locations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville.
Flechner owns and runs several top-performing Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises in South Florida.
“For us, this is absolutely huge,” VooDoo CEO Tony Avila says. “We’re establishing a large footprint in the nation’s fourth-most-populous state, where people from all over the country go to live, play and do business. I think years from now, we’ll look back at this agreement with BBQ Boyz as a monumental moment for VooDoo BBQ.”
BBQ Boyz plans to open 13 restaurants in the next five years and the full complement of 26 within a decade. The deal is the largest in VooDoo’s four-year franchising history; until June, the Louisiana-based company had 12 locations, all in south Louisiana. An aggressive expansion, including agreements with franchisees in South Carolina and Texas, pumped up the number of locations set to open to 17, and the Florida deal boosts the company’s total number of projected locations to 53.
“There are good barbecue places down in Florida, so it’s not like we’d be bringing something brand new to Florida,” Flechner said. “But VooDoo is different in that it’s fast-casual rather than the kind of mom-and-pop shack or the much larger sit-down restaurants that are prevalent down here. I think VooDoo is really well situated to fill a niche in between and it has a great, cool name.”
But most important, he said, was the food. VooDoo specializes in competition-style barbecue, in which pork, chicken and beef are slow-cooked over pecan and oak logs and served without sauce, which diners can add to taste. VooDoo complements the tender, flavorful meat with unique and flavorful side dishes that can stand on their own — items like VooDoo’s corn pudding, Gris Gris greens and sweet potato soufflé — plus salads and sandwiches for people who, for reasons that surpass understanding, may not be in the mood for barbecue.
VooDoo was founded by a group of friends and Louisiana State University business school graduates who opened the first VooDoo BBQ & Grill on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans on Mardi Gras day 2002. Over the next nine years, the company grew slowly but steadily, proving itself in the competitive culinary arena of south Louisiana.
“Now we’re ready to take our New Orleans-style flavor and magic way beyond Louisiana,” Avila says. “Florida has some great food. We’re excited and confident that Floridians will appreciate and love what VooDoo BBQ has to offer.”