Fransmart Blog

America's Next Great Restaurant Winner Soul Daddy Closes NYC and LA Restaurants

Posted by Staff on Jun 20, 2011
We were sorry (but not totally surprised) to hear that Soul Daddy, the healthy soul-food brainchild of America's Next Great Restaurant contestant Jamawn Woods, has closed two of its three locations after just one month of operation.

Soul Daddy - America's Next Great RestaurantWhy were we not surprised by the Soul Daddy closures?

Fransmart has long advised our clients to perfect their systems and concept before embarking on aggressive expansion plans. We have also supported practical unit opening schedules, where brands stagger new restaurant openings to allow for proper training and marketing (ie. Don't open three new restaurants in one week!) Lastly, many Fransmart brands have succeeded by following a "spiral out from the core" expansion strategy, whereby a brand first targets new unit development in territories surrounding their home-base. Examples of this successful growth plan include Five Guys Burgers & Fries and zpizza.


The America's Next Great Restaurant "prize" went against all these principles. It seemed overly ambitious, if not crazy. I had hoped the investors planned to back the winner with large amounts of capital, necessary to open and sustain an un-tested concept in a new market. Perhaps each investor would "adopt" a location with capital and consulting, for example Steve Ells backs Soul Daddy LA, and Bobby Flay backs Soul Daddy NYC.


But, alas, it appears that was not the case. And now, the real victim in this fiasco is Jamawn Woods. We're pretty sure Steve Ells, Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia have other projects and investments to fall back on.


Throughout the duration of the airing of America's Next Great Restaurant, restaurant industry experts weighed in with concerns about the prize, expressing the difficulties associated with opening three restaurants in three very different markets at the same time. covered the Soul Daddy closures and issued the following statement from the investors:

"The realities of running a restaurant are very difficult, more so with multiple locations in multiple cities. After a careful review of the business model and the performance of the restaurants, we have decided that our best opportunity for Soul Daddy's success is to focus our efforts on establishing a solid footing in one location, building the brand, and developing the operations from there. We have decided to close our restaurants at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles and the South Street Seaport in New York, effective June 14, and focus on developing the best restaurant we can at the Mall of America restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota. While it has certainly been a difficult decision, we believe this is the best approach as we work towards ongoing success for Soul Daddy."


Fransmart wishes Jamawn success in keeping his concept alive. We think there is definitely a market for soul-food, especially for a concept with a health-conscious twist. Perhaps the remaining Mall of America location in Minneapolis will serve as a legitimate launching point for the concept. The final verdict is not yet in... Was "America's Next Great Restaurant" just another experiment in exploiting an average citizen with dreams on reality TV? Or, will the show's investors indeed follow through, and commit time and capital to helping Soul Daddy thrive from a new home-base in Minneapolis.

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