Last March Dog Haus launched The Absolute Brands – a restaurant group comprised of Dog Haus and multiple virtual brands, inspired by Dog Haus’ unique menu. Through The Absolute Brands, Dog Haus began offering three delivery-only brands – Bad Mutha Clucka, Plant B and Bad-Ass Breakfast Burritos – at its virtual kitchens and restaurants.
In the year ahead, the company will continue to capitalize on the success of The Absolute Brands with the debut of four new virtual concepts, soon to be announced.
Virtual Brands Heat Up
Virtual restaurant brands offer restaurant operators a lifeline — the ability to increase revenue while maintaining their core business. At Restaurant Next during the panel discussion Host Kitchens Heat Up, three execs from Wow Bao, CEC Entertainment; and Resident shared their concepts, including virtual brands and host kitchens, that are adding revenue to the bottom lines. All Restaurant Next educational sessions are now available in the Restaurant Next Content Hub.
Brands including Franklin Junction. Fazoli's, Brinker International, and Chuck E. Cheese have launched virtual wing brands in recent months, and comes as Americans are eating more comfort food during the pandemic. Celebrities, including Mario Lopez and award-winning recording artist Mariah Carey, have been lending their names to virtual brands.
“2020 has been a whirlwind of a year,” said Dog Haus Partner André Vener. “Like everybody else in our industry, Dog Haus faced unforeseen – even historic – trials this year, but we found a way to finish 2020 back on top. Launching The Absolute Brands allowed us to capitalize on third-party delivery at the beginning of the pandemic, and this is really what moved the needle for us. Dog Haus has always been a creative and adaptable brand that’s consistently jumping on new business opportunities, and this year we took that to a whole new level.”
When the COVID-19 crisis forced dining rooms nationwide to close, Dog Haus’ systemwide sales immediately dropped 50%. Though the brand quickly pivoted to respond to the pandemic with safe, sales-driving initiatives like curbside pickup, an adapted grocery store model at its restaurants that sold a variety of essential foods, and the debut of The Absolute Brands drove a massive spike in delivery sales. One franchise unit that rolled out The Absolute Brands saw a sales increase of over 300%. Overall, after a brief downturn, Dog Haus’ stores reversed course to exceed pre-pandemic same-store sales numbers by over 13% for the last 6 months.
Looking to 2021, Dog Haus plans to accelerate its growth, with 15 new locations already in the pipeline throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Texas and West Virginia.
The brand also plans to test smaller footprint restaurants to operate for carryout- and delivery-only, and a new prototype is under development, featuring a traditional drive-thru with a dedicated lane for third-party and mobile-order pickup.