Focus Brands finds success with non-traditional locations, including ghost kitchens

Advances in technology also pave the way for new formats, channel development

The number of Focus Brands non-traditional locations are growing quickly due to a steadfast focus in these formats. The parent of Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, has grown its non-traditional units to 954. These include points of sales at airports, convenience stores, amusement parks, colleges, ghost kitchens, and other high-footprint venues.

Beyond those stores already opened, the 313 Focus Brands non-traditional units in the development pipeline signal strong demand for these real estate formats, suggests the company.

Travel Plazas, C-Stores, Airports

Within the convenience-store travel-plaza channel, Focus Brands found success with Pilot Travel Centers. The franchise partner plans 10 new Cinnabon locations. These will open in travel plazas and convenience stores within the United States. Mountain Express, another franchise partner signed a new development agreement. It will develop 50 Schlotzsky’s and 5 Moe’s Southwest Grill locations, bringing these to travel plazas in the Southeast region.

At airports, additional milestones have arrived. In 2021, Cinnabon opened its first location at Charleston International Airport owned by a femaie franchise. Shawnalea Garvin becomes the first ever African-American female franchisee at this airport. What’s more, HMSHost signed an agreement to open a new Jamba location in the Salt Lake City International Airport. The opening has been scheduled for winter 2022.

Furthermore, franchise partner Ajay Maini is opening a Jamba location at John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, Calif., in early 2022.


Amusement Parks, Colleges, Ghost Kitchen, Robotic Kiosks

Moreover, Focus Brands celebrated further developments in franchising on the non-traditional front:

  • Amusement Parks: Auntie Anne’s plans to open two units at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington in the months ahead. These will be the first store locations inside a Six Flags park for the brand.
  • Colleges and Universities: Beyond college campuses, college-edge markets are Focus Brands targets. The Atlanta-based franchisor will open Jamba, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s and Carvel in these markets. These special brands will penetrate high-traffic, downtown college towns. On top of all of this, a Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s co-brand location opened near the University of Cincinnati in October. Plus, a Jamba and Auntie Anne’s co-branded location near Auburn University will open next year.

Technology has also paved the way for future growth with Jamba recently opening its second robotic kiosk pilot location. The Stonewood Center Jamba by Blendid, in Downey, Calif., provides for entry into venues like big box retailers, travel centers, hospitals and college campuses. These are channels where a full Jamba store might not be feasible. Advances in robotics make it easier for Focus Brands to access consumers where they are, suggests the restaurant group.

What’s more, an agreement with Ghost Kitchen Brands will help pilot nine newly-debuted Canadian and US Cinnabon locations with ghost kitchens.


“We’re fortunate to have a variety of brands in multiple verticals that have the brand awareness and development prototypes ideal for non-traditional locations. As we continue to grow, it’s crucial in this competitive market to identify non-traditional opportunities that will build awareness for our brands, while turning profits for our brands’ franchisees,” said Brian Krause, Focus Brands chief development officer. “Knowing that there’s high demand for our brands, we want to expand in the right non-traditional venues to ensure we’re building accessibility and giving our guests more opportunities to enjoy their favorite food and beverage. We’re looking forward to adding new units to the development pipeline and to opening additional locations in the coming months.”

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