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A home-grown sports bar is looking to expand a local love for fried pickles and mixed drinks—and it wants to do so through franchising.

Like most restaurants in the sports-bar genre, Stacked Pickle boasts its share of widescreen televisions, neon beer signs and heaping plates of nachos.

But Stacked Pickle owner and CEO Gary Brackett told IBJ the key difference for his brand is the weight it places on the neighborhood. It’s more than an interaction with the customer, he said—it’s an interaction with the community. Stacked Pickle outlets regularly host dine-and-donate nights with local schools and not-for-profits, he said.

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A Place for Community

Brackett himself has long been familiar to the Indianapolis community. He sported the No. 58 blue-and-white jersey as a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts for nine seasons, including a win over the Chicago Bears at Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

That’s an athletic career that earns him recognition even today as a restaurateur—and in his newest gig as a franchisor.

Ray Bridges, a south-side Indianapolis resident and regular Stacked Pickle customer, shows off a photo of a Colts-themed license plate. “We won this license plate at an auction,” he said. “GO 58” is stamped in black next to the horseshoe logo on the plate, a rallying cry for Brackett during his NFL days.

As Bridges dined on a burger smashed between golden buns and loaded with a tall pile of crispy fried onions, he explained that he and his wife, Diane Bridges, are self-proclaimed Gary Brackett fans. Each said they regularly eat at Stacked Pickle and have visited three of its locations—Southport, Greenwood and Carmel.

Now, Brackett hopes to make equally strong fans out of aspiring franchisees and consumers in other cities, some far from Indianapolis.

Though no franchised locations exist yet, Brackett said the Stacked Pickle concept is marketable as a franchise.

There are five serious candidates, Brackett said—all of which are on track to open their doors by early next year.

Brackett currently oversees nine company-owned and -managed Stacked Pickle locations, exclusive to central Indiana. He purchased the chain outright in 2014 after spending time as a co-owner.

He said he wanted to franchise immediately to encourage growth. But further consideration put the venture on hold for three years so he could revise and strengthen Stacked Pickle’s image and set a training model in place.

The Game Plan

Now he’s ready to go.

Securing a franchisee contract won’t be easy. It will take commitment, Brackett said, both from inside the existing company and from future partners.

It also requires a relatively large wallet. To start, all applicants pay a uniform $40,000 franchise fee.

The costs continue to add up—for real estate, construction, equipment, branding and signage, and more.

On average, franchisees can expect to spend around $668,200. But that investment can vary considerably, with low-cost franchises totaling $405,050 and the highest-cost locations costing up to $931,350.

To maintain a neighborhood feel, new Stacked Pickle locations won’t exceed 5,000 square feet.

Ongoing costs for franchisees will include turning over 6 percent of sales to the Stacked Pickle company. That’s 5 percent for a royalty fee and 1 percent for Stacked Pickle’s marketing fund.

While that might sound like a lot, comparable sports-bar operations like Scotty’s Brewhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings often require franchisees to spend more than $1 million on startup costs alone. Those chains also tend to require multi-unit franchise deals.

Stacked Pickle franchisees can also enter multi-unit deals, which would reduce the initial mandatory franchise fee to $30,000 per location.

Brackett Restaurant Group LLC—the entity behind Stacked Pickle and other subsidiaries, including Char Blue—will also incur additional upfront costs.

Each franchised location, at least in Indiana, will cost Brackett about $1,000 for real estate costs and another $1,000 for equipment assistance and $2,500 for training.

 

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