June 29, 2010 // Franchising.com // EDGEWATER, Md. – The Greene Turtle's franchise program witnessed unprecedented growth in the past month, adding three new locations and extending into Delaware and the southern region of Virginia. Franchisee Leho Poldmae got the ball rolling June 9 by opening a restaurant in Owings Mills, Md. Less than a week later, on June 14, franchisees Bill and Bob Frankis opened Delaware's first franchised Greene Turtle in Rehoboth Beach, followed by the debut of franchisees Kristen and Miguel Pagano's first location in Chesapeake, Va., on June 23.
Two of the three franchisee groups that opened new sites this month already operate other Greene Turtle locations. Poldmae is a partner in The Greene Turtle of Westminster, Md., which opened in July 2008 and has been one of the most successful units within the chain. He also recently signed a franchise agreement to develop three more restaurants in Maryland and Delaware. The twin Frankis brothers are partners in The Greene Turtle's Aberdeen, Md. restaurant, which opened in February 2009, and the Chesapeake restaurant is part of a two-unit franchise agreement for the Paganos.
The Greene Turtle is making 2010 a breakout year for expansion. The casual dining/sports bar & grille chain capped off 2009 by opening a company-operated restaurant in Fredericksburg, Va., in mid-December, marking its entry into Virginia. It then kicked off 2010 with a mid-January opening by franchisees Sattar Shaik and Praveen Kondaka in the northern Virginia city of Leesburg. As many as three more locations may open by the end of this year, including a company-owned restaurant in Hampton, Va., a franchise location in Olney, Md., and another franchise site in Pasadena, Md., by a group that will eventually open two additional locations. In all, The Greene Turtle already has signed commitments representing 13 more restaurants throughout the eastern United States.
"We're on a roll, and we intend to keep rolling into new markets on our way to reaching 150 locations," said CEO J. Michael Sanford. "These latest openings have pushed us further south and further up the eastern shoreline, and we'll now look to fill in Virginia and Delaware while continuing our expansion up and down the East Coast."
Now with 25 franchise, corporate and affiliate restaurants in Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, The Greene Turtle is seeking franchisees to develop additional locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, Georgia and Florida.
That it will be putting stakes in the ground in multiple new markets is one of many measures promising to bring significantly greater visibility to The Greene Turtle. The chain already enjoys exposure in several high-visibility venues, including Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center, Maryland's BWI Airport and the popular vacation area of Ocean City, Md. The new Rehoboth Beach restaurant will enhance the chain's reputation as a popular beachtown destination, while nearly completed negotiations to add several more airport sites will increase exposure to commuters throughout the East Coast.
In addition, The Greene Turtle recently established a marketing cooperative composed of company and franchise locations, and hired an outside marketing agency to create new advertising materials, professional sports affiliations and other marketing opportunities. Thus far, the agency has produced several new commercials and print advertisements and forged or advanced marketing relationships with the Washington Capitals, Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Wizards, and women's pro soccer team the Washington Freedom.
The Greene Turtle also has popped up on some prestigious lists lately as well. The chain made its debut on Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 list this past January, for instance, and was named among the "top restaurant franchises of 2010" in an April followup feature. That feature further distinguished The Greene Turtle's winning proposition by noting that among the "strongest showings" within the restaurant ranking were concepts specializing in comfort food, a Greene Turtle trademark.
What has been driving The Greene Turtle's popularity as both an eatery and a franchise opportunity is a combination of regional brand strength and a reputation as a friendly, affordable place to take the whole family for a great meal and a great time. People of all ages enjoy The Greene Turtle's food and friendly atmosphere throughout the day, as well as watching family-friendly programs on flat-panel TVs in their booths or sports on big screen TVs overhead.
Regardless of why they flock to The Greene Turtle, fans are proud to pledge their allegiance to the brand. In addition to snatching up branded T-shirts and other merchandise, many have become members of a lifelong loyalty program called The Mug Club, already more than 20,000 members strong, in which patrons purchase numbered beer mugs that are maintained on-site for their exclusive use and entitle them to special members-only events as well as discounted beverage purchases on every visit. Most Greene Turtle locations also have their own Facebook fan page with hundreds if not thousands of fans.
The Greene Turtle is committed to giving back to its neighbors in return for their loyalty and patronage. The chain's longstanding tradition of community involvement includes youth sports sponsorships and the Funds for Friends program, in which individual locations donate a portion of their proceeds to organizations in exchange for encouraging members, families and friends to dine or drink at the location on a pre-determined day. Nearly $500,000 to date has been raised through the program.
First opened in Ocean City, Md., in 1976, The Greene Turtle today covers markets across Maryland and extends into Washington, D.C., Virginia and Delaware. Combining comfort food, a casual atmosphere and a sports bar theme marked by big screen TVs broadcasting local and national events, "The Turtle" has become a popular year-round destination for families and friends of all ages. Franchise opportunities are available throughout the Eastern United States to qualifying investors.