By Mark Ambrogi
The Carmel-based Gumbo Growth LLC is taking its first step in expanding J. Gumbo’s restaurants.
“We acquired the rights to franchise and develop the concept in May 2015,” Gumbo Growth president Bill Church said.
The company’s first sold J. Gumbo’s opened in Kalamazoo, Mich., Aug. 1. The next opening will be Aug. 7 in Cranberry Township, Pa. The other three sold franchises will be in New Mexico, Ohio and North Carolina.
“Those five are in different stages of opening,” said Church, who hopes to sell franchises in the Indianapolis area.
Carmel resident Church’s business partner Alan Zukerman serves as the chairman.
The concept, featuring New Orleans-style food, was created by Billy Fox, who is still involved in the manufacturing and processing.
“We came across the concept, we liked it,” Church said. “We felt it fit the mold of what is happening today in the fast casual concept. The menu is extremely simplistic for both the customer and the franchise operator. It has a low cost of entry for the franchisee, so that was attractive to Alan and myself.”
A different group had franchised the concept previously, Church said. Included in that group is a J. Gumbo’s in Fishers.
“There be a slightly different look, we have some richer colors,” Church said. “Whereas the majority of the stores open, the food is not displayed to the customer. We’ll have the food on display as the customer comes down the line so they see the product and choose their entree. We feel like customers want to see what they’re buying.”
Zukerman said they have helped other companies franchise.
“Bill and I have been associated over 40 different restaurant concepts over our careers with the marketing and operation side of the business,” Zukerman said. “In the last six months we’ve sold the rights to five. To be honest, we haven’t even started marketing the concept, which we’ll soon start doing on a more accelerated basis.”
Zukerman and Church own eight Papa John’s franchises, seven in Central Indiana. Zukerman said they are beginning to help franchise King David Dogs in convenience stores and travel plazas.