Largest 'Zees Buy Gyro Shack, Plan Franchise Reboot
"I'm not worried about it. I think we have a brand that we can sell," said Seth Brink, president of The Gyro Shack, about the closure by last fall of 40 stores.
Two investors who were also The Gyro Shack's largest franchisees, with four locations in Boise, Idaho, have purchased the brand and plan to restart a franchising program that foundered after a promising push beginning in 2015.
Then, Doug Miller and Seth Brink purchased The Gyro Shack from the founder, Gus Zaharioudakis, and started building the systems needed to franchise. "We had never sold franchises" before, Brink said. "We sold 40 units in four different markets, in Washington and Northern Idaho, and all of them have since closed," in the fall of 2019.
"There were a number of factors, and I will own all of these, because we made the decision to franchise to all these people. You don't know what you don't know, until you do it," he said. "We franchised to people who had been in other brands for some time. They just forgot what it was like to open a new brand in a new market."
The Gyro Shack now has eight corporate stores and one franchised, owned by Miller who no longer has a stake in the company nor his executive post. The deal closed on February 29, "which is rather serendipitous because COVID hit two weeks later," said Brink, who is now president.
Mark Urness and Matt Jeffries are the two investors. Urness, the majority shareholder,
built a cell phone brand with 123 locations called MyBullfrog.com in Idaho, Nevada and Utah until 2015, when he merged with Go Wireless with 700 locations in 33 states, Brink said.
Jeffries, a minority shareholder, acts as Urness's CFO, managing his investments including Gyro Shack. "He's bringing a level of financial acumen that we've never had," Brink said, noting the two men were Gyro Shack franchisees. "They wanted to diversify, so why not diversify with a brand that you love the food and you know the people.
"Mark and Matt, they are primed and ready to grow, and they're much better funded. And it takes that," he said.
Brink's job will be "really, just re-proving the brand," and focusing on Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Arizona at first. "We're looking at the Phoenix market corporately, to get a store or two open. Phoenix is really interesting, because of the diverse demographics from Idaho."
Asked if the track record of the brand will hurt his efforts, he said not necessarily. "You can take it either way. You can say it's going to hurt us, but I can tell you, we learned a lot," he said. "I'm not worried about it. I think we have a brand that we can sell."