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“COVID-19 is a short-term crisis,” he said. “We're buying the Johnny Rockets brand for the long term. It's a great brand. We think it has a lot of legs. We can distribute it to our franchise network and really help take it to an entirely new level.”
The acquisition increases the number of worldwide FAT Brands restaurants to 700. Wiederhorn said the acquisition has been years in the making and Johnny Rockets fits in the FAT Brands portfolio “very well” alongside other burger brands like Fatburger and Elevation Burger.
Gatlinburg, TN, USA – May 14, 2018: Entrance of Johnny Rockets Diner on the Gatlinburg strip.
“We’ve been working on this deal for a long time, several years, and it finally came to market for real at the beginning of the year and then was put on hold with the pandemic,” he said. “And we just feel like it fits in our portfolio very well… Now we really have a complete portfolio of burger brands that we can offer to any operator or any real estate fit to see what works best. It really completes us.”
During the height of the pandemic, Wiederhorn said FAT Brands franchisees were prepared to weather the storm, with delivery and to-go service making up 70% of all business since the outbreak, up from 35% before the pandemic hit America.
“We coached all of our franchisees … on how to take advantage of the delivery systems. We were already on all of the delivery apps everywhere,” he said. “And we have outdoor dining rooms … So we were prepared for it, fortunately. We're also very lucky we're not in fine dining where, you know, those poor guys have got a long road ahead.”