Golden Krust: The Fastest Growing Jamaican-owned U.S. Franchise

Hawthorne Headshot 1.jpgGolden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill has capitalized on Jamaica’s popularity as a tourist destination, fueling the rise of authentic Jamaican cuisine consumed in the U.S.

The Bronx, New York based company has become the fastest growing Jamaican-owned U.S. franchise, with over 120 restaurants and kiosks located in nine states, since opening its first company-owned store in Bronx, New York in 1989. That small piece of real estate was the genesis behind Golden Krust’s decision to become the first Caribbean, Black-owned U.S. company to be granted a franchise license in 1996. 

Today, Golden Krust continues to draw franchisees interested in serving authentic Caribbean cuisine in the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina. 

Plans now call for 10 new store openings in Boston, Houston, the greater Atlanta market, South Florida and several locations will open for the first time in Toronto starting in second quarter 2017, thanks in part to 500,000 Jamaican nationals residing in that city.

Golden Krust initially opened stores in New York City and its suburbs, where a strong Jamaican and Caribbean population continues to rise. But soon the company followed that growing populace to Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and now has plans to expand in markets that include a more diverse American customer base interested in Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine. The same holds true for attracting new franchisees other than Jamaican and Caribbean nationals.

The brand has distinguished itself from other quick-service chains; its variety of authentic Caribbean fare is not typically associated with American mass-market fast food chains. Golden Krust’s vibrant décor is also filled with bright Caribbean colors and motifs, creating a casual, down-to-earth atmosphere and a more distinct, memorable dining experience. 

That dining experience is not typically found in a fast food chain, where the majority of  customers look for speed, convenience and predictability.

Golden Krust’s franchise concept was launched with the company’s signature Jamaican-style homemade patties, for which the chain has become synonymous in the U.S. Patties are offered in a variety of flavors, each made with fresh ingredients and the signature flaky golden crust that has become the hallmark of Golden Krust patties.  Flavors include seasoned beef, chicken, shrimp, vegetable and spinach fillings wrapped in a flaky baked crust.

But as market demand changed with the times, the Golden Krust menu evolved into a larger three-meal-day menu. Breakfast includes porridge as well as ackee or callaloo with codfish, while lunch and dinner options range from soups and salads, sandwiches and wraps to larger entrees such as braised oxtail, curried goat, jerk chicken and jerk fish-- all served with rice and peas, plantains and fresh vegetables.

For franchisees, the total investment required to own and operate a Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill ranges from $173,400 to $564,000 for a 250- to 500-square-foot kiosk -- a smaller design suitable for non-traditional locations (airports, food courts and hospitals) -- or a more traditional stand-alone restaurant, occupying up to 3,500 square feet found in more urban and suburban markets.

Golden Krust currently charges an initial franchise fee of $25,000 for a restaurant (a traditional franchise) and $15,000 for a kiosk (a non-traditional franchise). Golden Krust estimates that approximately 60% of the franchise fee represents the cost to perform its pre-opening obligations for a restaurant or kiosk. The remaining dollars are placed in the franchisor´s general operating fund.

Average per unit sales for Golden Krust’s restaurants currently range from $537,993 to $2,401,494, according to Golden Krust Franchising, Inc., Franchise Disclosure Document, Item 19.

To achieve a high success level, Golden Krust is committed to offering franchisees a learning environment that fosters continuous growth through information sharing and skills training. This includes training and assisting with the pre-opening, operations, marketing and food preparation for a new franchisee.

The company’s experienced staff guides new franchisees through its comprehensive three-week training course conducted at Golden Krust’s Corporate Training Center in The Bronx or other designated training restaurants. Upon course completion, new franchisees should be ready to operate their kiosk or restaurant. Members of Golden Krust’s franchise support team also assist new franchisees during their first two weeks of a new opening to ensure they are self-sufficient. After this time, the franchise support team is readily available for further assistance.

Beyond its restaurants and kiosks, Golden Krust’s retail division formed in 2005 sells its signature patties to New York public schools, the penal system, military channels nationally,  plus over 20,000 supermarkets, club and dollar stores nationwide, providing additional marketing for franchisees.

Numerous restaurants have launched similar retail operations, but very few have been successful. New restaurant owners underestimate the start-up capital they need to open a restaurant. To be successful, a restaurant needs a good location, a theme or style that appeals to a broad range of customers and a great menu. Restaurants in large cities or heavily populated areas are always subject to competition. One must know how to market and manage their business, attract new customers and develop a repeat clientele to be successful.

The retail division is part of Golden Krust’s strategy to help achieve the company’s long-term vision – to transport the taste of the Caribbean to the world, no matter how long it takes.

Lowell F. Hawthorne is President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, the nation’s largest Caribbean franchise chain.  He migrated to the United States in 1981 along with his family and found employment as an accountant with the New York Police Department. In 1989 he pursued his desire to create economic stability for his family and opened a bakery on East Gun Hill Road in Bronx, NY, with the help of his wife, his siblings and their spouses. The bakery grew rapidly and soon gave birth to several other outlets in the New York metropolitan area. Today Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill operates more than 120 franchised restaurants in nine states.

www.goldenkrustbakery.com