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Following Big Gains, Captain D’s Expects Strong 2017


It was another terrific year for seafood franchising giant Captain D’s, as the company obtained a record-high systemwide AUV in 2016. It saw fourth quarter systemwide sales increase 1.3 percent, along with a 2.3 percent systemwide same-store sales increase over the year. This marks six consecutive years of sales growth for the Nashville-based company.

More than anything else, Captain D’s CEO Phil Greifeld points to talented people at the top and a strong group of franchisees when crediting areas of success. He mentioned creating a positive guest experience, and developing guest-centric values as a core concept.

“You can’t just put a plaque of values on the wall and say ‘Boom, my job is done.’ So day in and day out, year in and year out, you have to promote it, you have to recognize people living by our guest-centric values,” he said.

While Greifeld credits new menu items and innovations as a driving force for the company’s growth, the new coastal design promoted and implemented by the company over the past several years has driven excitement for the company and increased traffic. Sixty percent of Captain D’s restaurants have undergone the renovation, and it will take less than three more years for all of the company’s units to convert to the beach-themed redesign.

Greifeld acknowledges rising real estate costs as an obstacle for Captain D’s going forward. Aside from competing with other restaurants for space, Captain D’s operators need to make sure the occupancy cost for areas they do find are worth the investment. Though it does create friction with some franchisees, the company prefers purchases to leases with new developments.

For his conservative estimate, Greifeld believes Captain D’s, which ended 2016 with 518 restaurants in 26 states, will add at least 25 more units in the next year.

During our conversation, it was clear that Greifeld, despite well-documented woes regarding the restaurant industry, believes that 2017 will be another standout year for Captain D’s.

“You’re going to see a brand that continues to advance itself in the marketplace, and continue to carve that out unique identity like no one else in the industry,” Greifeld said. 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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