Stuck at the state line
Most of Mount Olive-based Andy’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries Inc.’s franchised and company-owned restaurants are in eastern North Carolina. But seeing one that opened near Charlotte in December on track to bring in $1.3 million this year — nearly triple the take of the average Andy’s — gave CEO Kenny Moore an appetite to expand outside the state. But his eyes have proved to be bigger than his stomach: Facing regulatory hurdles, plus trademark-infringement challenges to the chain’s name, he had not signed an out-of-state franchisee by mid-August.
Why go outside North Carolina?
Charlotte was like a whole different world. It was three hours away from our power base in the east. But it’s become the No. 1 store in the company. That showed me that our concept could go anywhere.
Can you use your name in other states?
We went from being Andy’s to Checkers to Highway 55. But we’re Andy’s again.
How did that happen?
We got a pass from an attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We’re in a 30-day window where other companies have a right to come against us. Keep that quiet. [Somebody in the Midwest challenged, which could take 90 days to resolve.]
Has that been the biggest hurdle?
The name has been the biggie. Historically, I opened stores in areas and clustered them so our name recognition preceded us. We’ve spent 20 years building this runway. Now we’re ready to take off, we’re excited, and we get bounced back.
Have other states been welcoming?
It hasn’t been what I thought it would be, especially in this economy. I’m a 20-year concept, not some fly-by-night that doesn’t know how to keep restaurants clean.
What’s the hardest state to deal with?
We wanted to go into Maryland. Because of government regulations, I made the decision not to. It’s too much of a hassle.
Texas said, “Send us the application and the check. Once it’s in the mail, you’re qualified.”
Is there a chance expansion outside North Carolina won’t happen in 2011?
The company I’ve hired to sell the franchises is contractually obligated to get 10 this year. If I were it, I’d overperform and underpromise.