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'Open Book' by Arooga's Helps Secure 50-Unit Development Deal


Arooga's Grille House & Sports Bar

Arooga’s signed a big development deal this week that—if completed—will double the size of its footprint, adding 50 restaurants over eight years in Florida and five counties in the greater Atlanta area.

That’s a tall order, but Pam Price, co-owner of franchisee The Sporting Group, says she and her business partner are up for the challenge. She’s not an experienced operator herself, with only one turn as a franchisee years ago, but she has worked for decades helping other brands grow.

“I’ve helped facilitate hundred of locations on the development side,” she says, for brands including Dunkin’ Donuts and Church’s Chicken.

Arooga’s has 10 corporate locations in Pennsylvania, and opened its first franchise location in Uncasville, Connecticut, adjacent to the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in March as part of a 15-unit deal with the Mohegan tribe.

Price’s visit to that franchised restaurant, and the tribe members’ willingness to share their due diligence, helped her to decide on Arooga’s. So did the executive team, including Keith Swade, director of franchise development, and Gary Huether, president and co-founder.

Huether describes the vision for Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar, started seven years ago, in great detail, then sums it up like this: “We were looking for a sports bar that didn’t have crappy food, I guess you could say. We put a lot more focus on our food quality” than competitors, he says.

In her consulting work, Price said, “I used to tell everybody, if you can get an exclusive territory and help control that area, that’s the best way to grow.” She was examining many sports bar brands when the Arooga’s group was brought to her attention.

Although a young brand is risky, to her it’s the only way to go. “In order to get an exclusive territory like that, you’ve got to jump on board with an emerging brand,” she says.

‘’I met with Gary and Keith, toured their restaurants, took a look behind the scenes. It impressed me to an incredible degree.” Her No. 1 criterion? Unit economics. “The nice thing about Arooga’s, they are full disclosure. If you look at their FDD, they’re open book in the Item 19,” she says, referring to the financial performance representation in their franchise documents.

The Sporting Group plans to open three restaurants themselves initially, and sell franchises to others for the rest of the 50-unit arrangement.

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

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor 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.
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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