Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
What do you get when you take the fame of a hometown football star turned NFL standout and combine it with the locals’ favorite chicken joint? Millions.
That’s just what Glennlock Foods, founded by veteran NFL All-Pro cornerback Aaron Glenn and his sports agent and business partner Jason Medlock, has done in partnering with Frenchy’s, a Creole concept opened by Percy “Frenchy” Creuzot in Houston in 1969.
The original two Frenchy’s locations, nestled between Texas Southern University and the University of Houston, have been campus favorites for years.
Frenchy Creuzot opened his first restaurant offering just a Po’boy sandwich made with Creole sausage. It’s still on the menu, but seasoned fried chicken and rotisserie chicken have become feature items. Traditional Creole side items include dirty rice, red beans, gumbo, étoufée, and seasoned fries.
The Creuzots tried to answer their strong following with franchising in the 1980s, but the oil crisis tightened Houston investors’ wallets, leading the family to focus on their original two stores and manufacturing their proprietary Creole products until they were approached by the Glennlock group last year.
Glennlock’s foray into chicken began as a franchisee of Dallas-based Williams Chicken, through which the partners met Reginald Coachman, who has 30 years of foodservice experience, much of it with chicken concepts. “I was doing some consulting work with Williams Chicken,” says Coachman, Glennlock Foods COO. “They shared their thoughts and visions about what they were trying to accomplish with a chicken concept, and we ended up forming a partnership.”
The group wanted to offer the best chicken in Houston, which led them to approach Frenchy’s. “I grew up eating Frenchy’s chicken on the north side of Houston,” says NFL cornerback Glenn. “After my high school football or basketball games, we would all go over to Frenchy’s to hang out, not just for the atmosphere but because the food was always so good.”
But, according to Coachman: “The word on the street was that they weren’t doing franchising and weren’t entertaining partnerships. But they agreed to meet with us.”
The meeting led to an exclusive licensing agreement with the Creuzots to convert Glennlock’s four Houston Williams Chicken locations to Frenchy’s by the end of 2008. “We converted all four stores to Frenchy’s in just 90 days, and sales were very strong.”
Coachman says sales jumped 500 percent, and averaged $1.3 million during the first year after the conversion, which is high in the chicken segment. Glennlock attributes the enormous success solely to the Frenchy’s name and product. “That’s why we feel confident that we can continue our strong growth,” Coachman says.
After the rapid conversions, Glennlock Foods made another license agreement with the Creuzots to develop 10 stores by 2009. With three new stores opening in the Houston area within the summer, Coachman expects to hit that mark by mid-2008.