Americans spend a whopping $90.57 billion a year on burgers, making up 44% of total sandwich sales. Year after year, the burger category remains one of the biggest segments in franchising. Although MOOYAH is an emerging brand, it’s already capturing what really matters: customers.
The made-to-order better-burger brand recently celebrated the milestone of reaching 500,000 loyalty members by hosting what it called the largest Twitter party of the year.
“Hitting half a million Rewards App members is a milestone we are enormously proud of and excited about,” said Natalie Anderson-Liu, EVP of Brand for MOOYAH. “We wanted to do something seriously fun to thank our most loyal fans and also shower them with even more rewards.”
Another milestone this year — making the ranks of Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 list — was the cherry on top of an impressive year for this Little Engine that Could from Plano, Texas.
How This Quick-Service Brand Is Differentiating Itself From Competitors
With 16 units already planned for 2021 — the majority coming from multi-unit and existing franchise partners — MOOYAH is currently slaying the burger game.
The 86-unit fast-casual franchise has built its reputation on giving Guests options, something that’s proved to be a winning strategy in this era of niche eating, where people increasingly define themselves by the food they eat (or won’t eat).
MOOYAH’s menu was designed to accommodate a variety of food lifestyles, from vegan to vegetarian, gluten-free to low-calorie, paleo-friendly to keto-friendly — not to mention carnivores and kids alike.
Offering a number of bun choices — including baked-in-house artisan potato, multigrain wheat, non-GMO and hand-crafted “lettuce buns” — as well as the option to go with 100% Certified Angus Beef, all natural Jennie-O turkey or Dr. Praeger’s black bean vegan burgers, Guests can craft their own dream burger to suit their dietary preferences.
On top of that, they can customize their burgers with a variety of gourmet options, including six different cheeses, Applewood smoked bacon, sliced avocado, fried onion strings, jalapeños, sautéed mushrooms and an array of sauces that go beyond the standard ketchup and mustard.
“Our food quality and Guest experience differentiates us within the industry,” said MOOYAH CEO Anand Gala. “Our Certified Angus Beef, hand-cut fries and real ice cream shakes served with great hospitality is what sets us apart and elevates our position in this competitive industry.”
How Serious Fun Equals Serious Moolah
MOOYAH’s commitment to fun is a breath of fresh air that’s built into every aspect of its model. “We believe that making seriously good food doesn’t have to be such serious business,” said Anderson-Liu. “We’re committed to prioritizing fun for everyone — our franchise owners, our staff and our Guests.”
Seriously, how could a restaurant with a “Burger Hall of ‘Dang’” not be fun? Recently challenging Guests to earn a free burger by eating at least eight of the 12 Burger Hall of ‘Dang’ recipes, including The Well D’Onion, The Hamburdog and Anderson-Liu’s personal favorite, The Indulgent BBQ, the better-burger chain has found that smiles and dollars go together like french fries and ketchup.
Despite a year rife with challenges for the restaurant industry, in 2020 18 MOOYAH stores joined the franchise’s Million Dollar Club — a group of restaurants that have pulled in at least $1 million in sales.
System-wide, MOOYAH grew by 10% during the pandemic, while also finalizing its new drive-thru concept, working with Madrid-based design partner Livit to offer more convenience to its loyal and enthusiastic customers.
Why The Leadership Team Is More Excited Than Ever
The COVID-19 pandemic was a tough test of leadership for any business, requiring a mix of innovation, grit and teamwork in order to survive.
According to Mike Sebazco, executive vice president of operations at MOOYAH, much of the brand’s recent success can be attributed to its ability to pivot and adapt during COVID. “The pandemic taught us a lot of things as an emerging brand,” Sebazco said. “Because we are in the service industry, we listened to our customers and leaned in on delivery.”
With third-party delivery now representing 20% of the burger brands’ business, MOOYAH also invested in a restaurant redesign to accommodate its delivery partners. Currently on track to have 95% of its U.S. franchise locations reimagined by the end of 2024, the redesign will allow for third-party delivery shelves conveniently located near doors and parking so drivers can easily identify where they need to go and get the food delivered as quickly as possible.
“What we’ve learned this past year is we want to be available to our Guests in the manner they want to use us,” said Gala. “We’re starting to cycle out of the pandemic, but the restaurant industry isn’t going back to the way it was. We’re ready to meet that challenge.”
With locations currently in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin, a full pipeline of new locations and a customer base that’s more loyal than ever, MOOYAH is riding a wave of expansion in 2021.
“I’ve been with MOOYAH almost eight years,” Anderson-Liu said. “Last year and now this year, we’ve never experienced the type of growth that we’re getting as a brand, with so many great multi-unit operators joining us. We’re excited to forge new partnerships as we execute our plan to grow across the country.”
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