Corner Bakery Cafe's renewed emphasis on franchise growth paid off immensely in 2012, with the signing of 10 new Area Development Agreements, more than doubling its best previous year, said Jonathan Benjamin, who joined Corner Bakery Cafe as vice president of franchise sales at the beginning of last year. The chain's new agreements added 125 cafes, raising the total to 288 cafes under development, as the company moves forward on its goal to double its U.S. footprint by the end of 2015.

"Last year was the most significant in Corner Bakery Cafe's franchising history," Benjamin said. "For 2012, we set out to sign agreements representing 108 new cafes and we easily exceeded that goal. Capitalizing on this momentum, we've set our sights to surpass last year's results in 2013."

Much of the growth can be attributed to a renewed focus on expansion through franchising. In addition to bringing in Benjamin to spearhead franchise development, franchise veterans Nick Booras and Gregg Koffler were also added as directors of franchise sales.

"There is no question that Corner Bakery Cafe is the right brand in the right segment for any developer seeking to expand or diversify into the Bakery Cafe segment of fast casual," Benjamin said. "I knew the brand had the advantage of strong unit-level economics, and I was really impressed by the strength and quality of the industry-respected leaders who were, and continue to be interested in becoming a part of our growth."

Some of the recent franchise partners signed in 2012 include:

  • Northwest Bakery Cafe LP, a group of veteran restaurant operators who also own 95 Jack in the Box locations, plans to open 18 new Corner Bakery Cafes in and around Seattle over the next few years.
  • Four M Bakery LLC, a group of veteran restaurant operators, which also owns 12 Buffalo Wild Wings through Four M Capital LLC, has plans to open seven Corner Bakery Cafes in Nassau County.
  • 11 new cafes in Kansas City, Mo.; 16 in Connecticut, six in Rhode Island, seven in Sacramento, Calif., 30 in New Jersey, 10 in Tampa and 20 spread throughout New York.

Corner Bakery Cafe will get 2013 off to a fast start with upcoming openings in Houston and Longview, Texas and Miami within the next few weeks.

Read more about growth and franchising.

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