Major changes are coming to four restaurant concepts owned by BRIX Holdings as the McKinney-based company rebrands and redesigns future stores.
BRIX started with Red Mango franchises in 2010 but began acquiring new brands in 2013 and 2014. They now own Redbrick Pizza Kitchen Cafe, Souper Salads, Smoothie Factory and Greenz.
All 380 locations, including the Red Mangos, are franchises. Even the corporate-owned locations were sold to franchise owners.
Craig Erlich, president and COO of BRIX Holdings, said this strategy sets the restaurants up for success.
“They just needed an opportunity [to] be redesigned and relaunched,” Erlich said. “It’s important to know as a franchising company how to best support that franchisee. We’re partners with them. These are people who are believing and trusting in us, that we’ll give them the best support.”
For the business owner, there are advantages to buying a franchise versus starting a restaurant from scratch. BRIX provides guidance on scheduling, hiring, marketing, operations and provides economies of scale for purchasing food.
First-time restaurant owners don’t get any of these benefits, in contrast.
“There’s so many things that can go wrong and, unfortunately, they learn the hard way,” Erlich said. “The chances of throwing money at bad ideas is minimized because we’ve already experienced what people have done well and not done well.”
Tom Portesy, president and CEO of MFV Expositions, which hosted the recent Franchise Expo South in Dallas, said franchises can open much faster than corporate-owned stores. Financial insitutions are more likely to lend to a franchise business, too, Portesy said, and these businesses can fill a market void in a short amount of time.
“You’re getting involved in something with a proven system,” Portesy said. “They’re going to help you every step of the way and they’ll help you avoid all the landmines that you might otherwise encounter.”
What’s new at Redbrick Pizza?
BRIX will open two Redbrick Pizza Kitchen Cafes this April that will feature a new ordering system and design.
With the current setup, customers order their food at the register and the pizza is made in the back of the restaurant.The new locations move all the food prep to the front so customers can pick their toppings down the line. The pizza pops in the oven for a few minutes and it’s ready.
“Basically, you follow your dough down the line,” Erlich said. “You can see the pizza being constructed.”
The two flagship restaurants will open in Lindale in east Texas and North Brunswick, N.J.
The restaurant sets itself apart by using a proprietary dough and other fresh ingredients for the pizza, Erlich said.
Redbrick Kitchen’s only North Texas location in Colleyville will keep the traditional ordering system.
With the two new locations, BRIX will have 12 Redbrick Pizza locations.
Souper Salad mixes things up
The newest Souper Salad in McAllen, near the border with Mexico, also moved the food prep to the front of the house. The new flagship restaurant opened in October.
The design actually fits into a smaller square footage without compromising the integrity of the operations, Erlich said.
Customers still go through the buffet line, but all the employees are in the front of the restaurant so they’re better positioned to help customers.
There are 30 Souper Salad locations nationwide.
Smoothie Factory remains flexible
Smoothie Factories are a staple in shopping malls, but recently BRIX has branched out with locations inside Gold’s Gyms. That includes the one in Richardson.
The Smoothie Factory can fit in a space as small as 200 square feet.
“We’ve blended different types of design for the Smoothie Factory brand,” Erlich said. “We can pretty much fit any square footage in any type of venue that we want.”
There are 30 Smoothie Factory locations around the country.
Red Mango bringing healthy options to food courts
As college campuses boot out unhealthy fast food restaurants from the food court, Red Mango is quick to jump in, Erlich said.
Red Mango is best known for its yogurt and juice bar as well as smoothies, parfaits and some light food options, such as flatbreads and soups. Everything on the menu is under 500 calories.
But since people sometimes want to treat themselves, or their children, to something sweeter, Red Mango recently announced a partnership with Nestle Tollhouse Cafe to open cobranded stores where customers can get products from both.
“Now there’s no reason why anyone would have to walk past a Red Mango to fill their need,” Erlich said.
Most restaurants are about 800 to 1,200 square feet in size.
There are more than 300 Red Mangos throughout North and South America.
Retired NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon announced recently that he will open a Red Mango location in Mount Belvieu just east of Houston, where he played for the Rockets.
A new venture for BRIX
In 2014, BRIX acquired salad maker Greenz because they were impressed with their innovative, premium products.
There are no immediate plans for development but long-term, Erlich said this could become a catering business.
What’s next for North Texas?
Strong population growth, stable weather and dense population in the city’s urban core has BRIX interested in developing its brands right here.
Since the influx of a younger population into downtown Dallas typically has a healthier mindset, Erlich said, that presents a business opportunity.
“There’s a lot of apartment complexes. That’s a lot of residents and a lot of energy,” Erlich said. “You want to be where all the energy is and it’s perfect for our brands. All our brands are centered around good-for-you products.”
North Texas is also Brix’s backyard, which helps.
It’s a great time to be opening a franchise of any kind in North Texas, Portesy said.
“When you have this tremendous growth economically in population there’s lots and lots of needs,” Portesy said. “You need more things taking place so you have more people moving in you need more dry cleaners and sandwich shops.”