Franchising Focus: Why Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli is overhauling brand identity

| by Cherryh Cansler
Franchising Focus: Why Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli is overhauling brand identity

Editor's note: This is the second of 12 articles, publishing on a monthly basis, that will focus on a specific franchise. If you think your franchise should be featured, email Cherryh at Cherryhc@NetWorldMediaGroup.

To reach its growth goal of 100 units by 2020, Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli is embarking on a complete brand overhaul, including a major menu update and a complete restaurant redesign.

"That path for growth will include working with current franchisees to expand existing trade areas, adding new franchisees with restaurant experience and a desire to own multiple units and strategically expanding the supply chain to support efficient growth and ensure brand quality and consistency," CEO Sue Daggett said about the brand, which now has 19 delis in seven states.

To meet the 2020 goal, the brand will focus growth in areas where the demographic mirrors its guest base, which includes Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, Daggett said.

New menu

Drawing on culinary trends, guest feedback and working with four chefs, the brand created or reimagined 20 menu items, which means they changed more than half of the menu options.

"Every item, from our custom-chopped salads and grilled or cool sandwiches to wraps and breakfast sandwiches is created to have bold flavors, fresh ingredients, house-made mouthwatering sauces and hearty portions," Daggett said.

In addition, Smiling Moose’s re-imagined Create-Your-Adventure Menu allows guests to completely customize their own breakfast skillets, sandwiches and salads with light, medium and heavy dressing options to accommodate personal dietary needs and taste preferences. Guests also now have a wider variety of lower-calorie, lower-fat, gluten-free and vegetarian options; nearly 30 items are under 600 calories.

The new menu is available in about 15 units and has been well received.

"Although I can’t share exact sales numbers, I can tell you that two of our highest-performing stores are our two new stores with the new menu," Daggett said.

New design

Colorado's Wynkoop and Edwards locations will be the first units to undergo remodelings to incorporate the brand's a new look, Daggett said. All new restaurants will have this design, and existing restaurants will incorporate retrofits over the course of the next three years. Highlights include:

  • A modern, clean design highlighted by an extensive use of natural materials such as wood, iron piping and steel accents that create a modern, rustic feel all accented with warm, energetic pops of color. 
  • Imagery and accents that evoke the Rocky Mountains and adventure, including a painted wall of aspen trees, wood tables accented with tree images, menu boards hung with carabineers, an interactive topographical map inviting guests to plot their next adventure, and boot prints leading guests to order and moose tracks leading them out, giving the feel that they’ve become a part of the Moose family.
  • A more open kitchen and custom-salad station.

The restaurant design and menu aren't the only aspects of the business getting an upgrade, Daggett said.

"An entirely new website and revamped logo designed to encourage guests to be curious, to explore, and find new flavors by participating with the brand online," she said. "The new site also hosts an online ordering system that allows groups to order and pay individually within a single order."

New franchisee

The Smiling Moose team is always looking for new franchise partners that exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit and passion, along with a track record of business success, said Dagget, who also expects potential franchise partners to have:

  • An understanding of multi-unit restaurant management as an owner and/or operator and have a team ready to support operations, marketing and growth.
  • A minimum liquidity of $350,000. "We are aware many franchise brands require less liquidity, but we know through experience that a new franchisee will be better off with this amount. We do not want our owners to get into their first store and be unnecessarily cash-strapped," Daggett said.
  • A residence in the territory and basic, local knowledge of the real estate and trade areas in the development territory.
  • Enthusiasm, drive and passion for the Smiling Moose and operating to the company's standards

According to Smiling Moose's FDD, the cost of entry can range from $306,300 to $675,000 based on square footage, geographic location, tenant improvement allowance, etc. This includes the initial franchise fee, furniture, fixtures, equipment, leasehold improvements, POS system, signage, grand opening advertising, miscellaneous other costs and some working capital.  Franchise royalty fees are 5 percent of gross sales, Daggett said. 

"We are a small, emerging brand and, with that, we pride ourselves on the individual attention we pay to each franchisee, she said. "And we encourage our franchisees to provide input on how we can better support their goals and communicate ideas on how we can collectively improve the brand."


Topics: Franchising Focus, Franchising & Growth

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

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