LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Jackmont Hospitality’s business model is simple. It’s based on building stores in urban areas where there are few services and, ideally, unmet demand. The company looks for a dense population in high-traffic areas as well as other metrics, such as homeownership rates and the length of time residents have lived in the community. But the team also kicks the tires, so to speak. “You kind of start off doing more intellectual research,” says Halpern. “But it always ends up with just getting in the car and driving around—at lunchtime, or Saturday night at midnight. Just to see what’s going on in the area.”
That approach has helped the company maintain sales in spite of lean times. “We have been fortunate in that we are almost always beating our comp sales,” says Brenda Branch, vice president of operations, describing the restaurant chain’s year-to-year sales performance. The company has the rights to open T.G.I. Friday’s locations in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Philadelphia, in addition to Georgia.
Halpern points to the company’s newest location in District Heights, Maryland, that opened in March as a perfect fit for the company’s model. Located at a major intersection—Pennsylvania Avenue and Silver Hill Road, just a couple of miles from the Suitland Federal Center complex of several government agencies (and their 11,000 or so employees)—it’s easy to get to. “And there’s not another casual dining restaurant within a 3-mile radius,” Halpern says. He also notes that it’s outperforming most of the company’s other locations when they were at this stage.
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