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MIAMI, Fla. — Farm Stores, a convenience drive-thru chain operating 70 locations throughout Florida for nearly 60 years, recently announced plans to franchise nationwide, with the initial investment cost of one store ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.
“We are just now launching a national franchise rollout, and have a national distribution and sustainable building concept, which is pre-fabricated and modular,” Maurice Bared, Farm Stores’ chief operating officer, told CSNews Online.
The company is a hybrid grocery store, bakery, quick-service restaurant and convenience store operator. Each of its stores features a double-sided drive-thru and offers approximately 800 SKUs, including food and coffee products.
Farm Stores recently launched a new premium coffee line with espresso drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos. Known for its soft-serve ice cream, the chain also offers a coffee and ice cream special.
“The coffee line had been in testing for 18 to 20 months and now every store will have the premium, fresh-brewed options,” Bared said, explaining that they are following the trend Starbucks created and also offering refreshers and all-natural fruit smoothies.
“We do have a regular coffee blend, but the trend in the market has been lattes and espresso coffees,” he added. “We also have our own unique flavors using our strength in ice cream, and customers can get a shot of vanilla soft-serve ice cream with espresso on top of it.”
The popularity of its soft-serve ice cream is what prompted the company to roll out other foodservice items. Recently, Farm Stores reintroduced dinner options, including a rotisserie baked chicken in the take-home category. Baked in a bag, the chicken can be purchased and heated up at home, or heated at the store.
“We also just introduced a line of hot, fresh-baked, crunchy chocolate chip cookies to our dessert options,” Bared noted. Other desserts include cake, pie and mini desserts, such as tiramisu, peanut butter truffle, cake pops and pastry.
Foodservice is now more than 50 percent of the company’s volume, including both foods consumed at the moment of purchase and take-home.
“We sell a lot of soup and 70 percent of our soup business is what we call ‘for-the-moment,’ and 30 percent is packaged in 32-ounce take-home containers,” Bared said. “We also offer fresh tuna and chicken salads for take home or for-the-moment.”
The chain is additionally known for its fresh-baked bread, which is actually its most popular product, followed by milk and eggs. The stores bake fresh bread all day so it’s always delivered to the customer hot. Most people usually purchase two at a time, according to Bared.
“Customers will always get bread hot and fresh, and 87 percent of our breads go out in two because people start eating one on the way home,” he said.
Along with focusing on the nationwide franchise rollout, Farm Stores is preparing to launch a pre-order app. Now in development, the app will allow customers to place an order from home, the office or on the go, and pick it up at the store without leaving their car.
While the chain focuses on speed of service already, this will decrease customer wait times even further, Bared said.
“Now, mom can place an order from home and just jump into the car and drive up for us to put it in the trunk of the car, or she can send dad on his way home from work,” he explained. “This will be rolled out in the next few months.”