Wingstop ‘zee taking Tin Drum to Texas market
Tin Drum’s cooked-to-order Asian food will stand out in Houston, the franchisee says.
Shairoz Lakhani grew up around food and watched her father build a portfolio of franchise brands but never thought she’d follow a similar route. Not long after earning an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta, however, she decided to start working in one of her family’s local Church’s Chicken restaurants, “and found out this is something that I actually enjoy,” says Lakhani. “The inventory management, marketing, I took an interest in those.”
The opening of a Dunkin’ store followed, and when Lakhani and her husband, Avez Maredia, moved to Texas they acquired a Wingstop restaurant in Wichita Falls. They’ve since grown to three Wingstops, with two more in development and recently signed a deal for their second brand, Tin Drum Asian Kitchen. Along with business partner Faizan Momin, Lakhani and Maredia will open five fast casual Tin Drums in the Houston area.
“It was something I could own instead of doing the 9-to-5 life,” says Lakhani of becoming a restaurant franchisee. “It’s a lot more work … but at the same time it’s a lot more rewarding. This is something I love.”
Already familiar with Tin Drum, which has 11 metro Atlanta locations—“We went there at least once a week for lunch,” she says—Lakhani notes she was drawn to the concept for its cooked-to-order take on Asian food and welcoming atmosphere.
“We love the food. We only get into brands where we love the food,” she says, adding there’s nothing like Tin Drum in Houston and the group also sees opportunity to expand in Dallas.
While being the first franchisees in a new market carries some risk—“Texas is so loyal to Texas brands, so that was something we considered,” she says—with the right marketing strategy Lakhani is confident they can achieve the success of the Atlanta restaurants, where the average unit volume is about $1.5 million and the average ticket is $13-$14.
“We feel it’s a strong enough brand for us to step in early and then just take over,” she says.
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Blaze Pizza signed a seven-unit deal with brothers Barrett and JC Fleming to grow the brand in Texas and Louisiana. The Fleming family is a multi-unit owner of Subway, The UPS Store and Zaxby’s.
Venture X, a co-working franchise, signed a two-unit deal with Raj Chudasama in Texas, starting in Grapevine. Tyler Evans and Michael Hicks signed for seven locations across North and South Carolina, the first in Durham.
I Heart Mac & Cheese has a two-store deal with MJM Real Estate and Investments for locations in Houston and Beaumont, Texas. Also in Texas, the brand signed a seven-store deal with Fidelity Enterprises.
Perspire Sauna Studio signed a deal with Julie Wordel to open three locations of the infrared sauna studio and chromotherapy concept in Orlando, Florida.
Pizza Inn signed an area development agreement with Tony Nemer, who will bring six locations to southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. Nemer also owns Golden Chick units in Oklahoma.
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