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Raving Brands Jumps the Pond
Seven years after being founded, Raving Brands has announced international expansion plans. But some franchisees question this global strategy when there’s still room to grow in the United States.

Moe's Southwest Grill is one of 9 Raving Brands concepts. Within the Raving Brands franchise community, there’s mixed feelings about the company’s recent international expansion plans. Some are encouraged, hoping the move generates U.S. buzz. Others question the global strategy.

On March 12, the holding company announced it inked development agreements for the Middle East, Singapore, and Canada. According to the announcement, these three independent deals will result in 150 restaurants.

“They should proceed cautiously,” says Stan Given, a two-unit Moe’s Southwest Grill operator in Florida. “There’s still lots of opportunities right here in the good old U.S. of A….On the other hand, there’s international restaurant companies that make boatloads of money.”

Raving Brands officials hope they become one of these companies. Stephen LaMastra, president and chief operating officer, says they will rely heavily on their international operators.

Raving Brands’ Middle East partner, A.A. Turki Corporation for Trading and Contracting (ATCO), is one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia and is involved in more than two dozen industries.

“[ATCO] knows their markets very well,” LaMastra says. “They know what concepts resonate over there, and they know what elements of our concepts will [work]. We’ll rely quite a bit on their guidance.”

ATCO has rights to develop all nine of Raving Brands restaurants: Moe’s, Shane’s Rib Shack, Doc Green’s, Mama Fu’s, Planet Smoothie, Flying Biscuit, Boneheads, Monkey Joe’s, and P.J.’s Coffee. As for the Singapore deal, Aspac F&B Pte. Ltd. opened the first Doc Green’s in January and has exclusive rights for Raving Brands in Singapore. In Canada, True North Brands Inc. will open Moe’s restaurants.

“We’ve turned down a lot of international opportunities, but we chose these because they’re the right fit at the right time,” LaMastra says. “We’re thrilled about the international growth, and we’re optimistic about our ability to grow domestically at the same time.”

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