August 08, 2011 // Franchising.com // New Orleans, LA - VooDoo BBQ & Grill, a Louisiana-based barbecue restaurant franchisor, is expanding nationally after nearly a decade of successful growth in Louisiana, propelled by an avid customer base hungry for its competition-style barbecue.
The New Orleans-themed chain is in negotiations with potential franchisees to start large multi-unit expansions in Florida, Texas and in the Northeast. Last month, VooDoo signed a deal with a Greenville, S.C., company to open eight restaurants in the Carolinas and plans to open another location on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
These expansions will at least triple the size of the chain and set the table for further expansion into markets outside the south, such as the Midwest and Northeast.
"People love New Orleans style food," said Tony Avila, VooDoo BBQ's CEO. "We've created a popular niche with our unique approach to fast-casual barbeque and we expect that it will be very popular in other parts of the country."
VooDoo BBQ specializes in competition-style barbecue, which slow-cooks pork, chicken and beef over a mix of hardwoods until the meat is tender. The meat is served without sauce, which customers can add to taste and enjoy along with VooDoo's award-winning side dishes, which customers often say are as good as the BBQ.
VooDoo opened its first location on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, a city renowned for its native cuisine but not known for barbecue, on Mardi Gras weekend 2002. Since then, VooDoo has carefully built its brand and franchise system to encompass 12 locations throughout South Louisiana.
New Orleans-themed franchise restaurants have historically done well on a national scale, and VooDoo BBQ and Grill expects to tap into the nation's fascination with New Orleans and its cuisine.
"Many Southerners already eat barbecue regularly," Avila said. "We think customers in the south will love our New Orleans twist on a food they already love, but we have a tremendous opportunity in places like the Midwest and Northeast as well. Barbecue is one of our national foods. It has universal appeal. Everybody loves barbecue."