Expanding Franchise Restaurant Brands with Non-Traditional Venues

Franchise restaurant brands have been a staple of the American dining landscape for decades, offering customers the convenience and consistency of a well-established brand. Traditionally, these franchises have grown and expanded through opening new brick-and-mortar locations in strip centers and standalone buildings. However, non-traditional venues offer an exciting and often overlooked opportunity for franchise restaurant brands to expand their footprint and reach new customers. In this article, we will explore non-traditional venues such as airports, universities & colleges, sports stadiums & event complexes, corporate campuses & industrial parks, food truck parks & food halls, pop-ups & mobile kitchens, and ghost & virtual kitchens, and how they can be used by franchise restaurant brands to grow and expand.


Airports are bustling hubs of activity, with millions of travelers passing through each year. These travelers are often in a rush and looking for a quick bite to eat before boarding their flights. For franchise restaurant brands, this presents an excellent opportunity to set up shop in an airport location. With a captive audience, airport locations can be incredibly profitable, especially if the franchise offers a menu that is easy to prepare and can be served quickly. Many airport locations also operate on a 24-hour schedule, which means that franchisees can generate revenue around the clock.

Universities & Colleges

Universities and colleges are also excellent non-traditional venues for franchise restaurant brands to expand. Many students are away from home for the first time and are looking for familiar brands to satisfy their hunger. Additionally, universities and colleges are often located in dense urban areas, which means that the potential customer base is significant. Franchise restaurant brands that cater to college students’ tastes, such as pizza or fast-casual burgers, can find great success in this market.

Sports Stadiums & Event Complexes

Sports stadiums and event complexes are another non-traditional venue that offers a captive audience. With thousands of people attending events, franchise restaurant brands can capitalize on this opportunity by opening up express-type locations. The key is to offer a menu that is quick and easy to prepare, allowing customers to get back to the game or event quickly. Franchise restaurant brands that are associated with a particular sport or event can also find success in this market.

Corporate Campuses & Industrial Parks

Corporate campuses and industrial parks are often located in areas where there are few dining options. This presents an excellent opportunity for franchise restaurant brands to expand by opening up express-type locations that cater to workers in the area. With a captive audience and little competition, franchise restaurant brands can generate significant revenue in these locations.

Food Truck Parks & Food Halls

Food truck parks and food halls are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. These locations offer customers a variety of dining options in a single location, making them a perfect venue for franchise restaurant brands to expand. Food trucks can serve as a low-cost entry point for franchisees looking to expand their portfolio, while food halls can provide a more substantial revenue stream.

Pop-Ups & Mobile Kitchens

Pop-ups and mobile kitchens are becoming increasingly popular for franchise restaurant brands to assess new markets and expand their brand awareness. Pop-ups can be set up in high-traffic areas such as shopping centers or city streets, while mobile kitchens can be utilized to cater for events or serve customers at festivals. These non-traditional venues offer franchise restaurant brands the opportunity to reach new customers without the overhead costs associated with opening a brick-and-mortar location.

Ghost & Virtual Kitchens

Ghost and virtual kitchens are a new trend in the restaurant industry that offers franchise restaurant brands an innovative way to expand. Ghost kitchens are commercial kitchens that are used exclusively for delivery or takeout orders, while virtual kitchens mostly operate online, with no consumer-facing physical location. Both non-traditional venues can be a cost-effective way for franchise restaurant brands to expand their reach without the expense of opening a traditional restaurant. They are particularly useful for franchisees who may not have the capital to open a physical location or for brands that are looking to test new menu items or concepts without committing to a brick-and-mortar location.

Benefits of Non-Traditional Venues

Non-traditional venues offer several benefits to franchise restaurant brands looking to expand. First and foremost, they provide access to a new customer base. By opening in non-traditional venues, franchise restaurant brands can reach customers who may not have been aware of the brand or who may not have been willing to make the trip to a traditional location. Non-traditional venues also offer lower overhead costs than traditional locations. For example, express-type locations require less space and fewer employees than a traditional restaurant, which means that franchisees can save on rent and labor costs. This can make it easier for franchisees to turn a profit and can be an attractive option for multi-unit and multi-brand franchisees looking to expand their portfolio.

Additionally, non-traditional venues can provide franchise restaurant brands with valuable exposure. By opening in airports, universities, or corporate campuses, brands can gain exposure to a captive audience who may be unfamiliar with the brand. This can help increase brand awareness and can lead to new customers at traditional locations. For multi-unit and multi-brand franchisees, non-traditional venues can also provide diversification to their portfolio. By opening in several non-traditional venues, franchisees can spread their risk and generate revenue from multiple sources.

Challenges of Non-Traditional Venues

While non-traditional venues offer many benefits, there are also several challenges that franchise restaurant brands may face when expanding into these locations. One of the biggest challenges is the limited space available in non-traditional venues. Express-type locations, food trucks, and pop-ups typically require less space, but they may also have limited seating or no seating at all. This can make it difficult to serve a high volume of customers during peak hours or to offer a full menu. Additionally, franchise restaurant brands may face competition from other vendors in non-traditional venues, which can make it harder to stand out.

Another challenge of non-traditional venues is the need for specialized equipment or staffing. For example, opening within an airport or sports stadium may require specialized equipment or training to meet the unique demands of the location. Franchise restaurant brands may also need to hire staff and train them to work in these non-traditional environments, such as food truck drivers or mobile kitchen operators.


Franchise restaurant brands can leverage non-traditional venues to extend their reach and attract new customers. Express locations found at airports, universities, and corporate campuses, as well as food trucks and virtual kitchens, can offer a cost-effective means of generating revenue and increasing brand awareness. Despite the many advantages that non-traditional venues provide, they also pose challenges, including space limitations and specialized staffing or equipment requirements. Nonetheless, franchise restaurant brands should view non-traditional venues as a viable option for expanding their operations, particularly for multi-unit and multi-brand franchisees seeking to broaden their reach.

Resources & Support

The Acceler8Success team focuses on helping entrepreneurs achieve their entrepreneurial goals through franchise ownership. For information and assistance in exploring restaurant franchise opportunities, including multi-unit and multi-brand development, please reach out to me today. You may do so via a LinkedIn message, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, or by phone or text at (832) 797-9851.

Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com. Also, please check out two of our other resource & support sites at Entrepreneurship411.com and OwnABizness.com

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