Two Lakewood-based partners, Peter Marthedal and Sebastian Brost, have signed a deal with Texas-based Mooyah to bring the fast-casual, gourmet patty-and-bun concept to the Pacific Northwest.
Marthedal and Brost already operate 26 Little Caesars franchises in Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston counties, as well as some out-of-state. They are in the planning stages to construct the first Washington Mooyah in Federal Way, with an intention to grow beyond South King County.
“We own the rights to Western Washington, with an option to purchase the remains of Washington,” Brost said last week. “We’re guesstimating we will open 12 Mooyah locations. We’re looking at Puyallup, Olympia, Southcenter and Lakewood, and then we’ll start going up north. We’ll open at least two locations a year.”
The partners are both franchisees and development agents, which allows them to recruit and sign potential franchisees to the brand.
Founded in 2007 and known for its fresh beef (or turkey, or veggie) patties and freshly baked buns (white, wheat or even a lettuce wrap), Mooyah proclaims its difference in the marketplace with a concept notable for customizable toppings and extras including grilled onions and fresh-cut french fries and 100-percent ice cream shakes.
‘We did our homework,” Brost said. “We took a look at all the other major burger chains. We felt that Mooyah was head and shoulders above the others.”
The chain counts some 44 stores, with most located in Texas. Others are scattered from Connecticut to California, with the nearest in the West located in Billings, Mont.
Michael Mabry, franchise director, said last week that the company will have 50 stores open by the end of 2012, with another 40 to 50 scheduled to open in 2013.
“Los Angeles, the East Coast, Arkansas, Utah, Colorado,” he said.
“We’d really like Florida.”
“We’re excited about Sebastian and Peter,” he said. “We think they’re a great fit for the brand.”
What finally fixes the deal with franchisees, Mabry said, “is the experience and the food, cooked to order.”
And the name, Mooyah, settled onto the lips of the founders, he said, “because they wanted a name that was contagious and hard to say without a smile.”
Mooyah in Western Washington joins a passle of other burger concepts both homegrown and national.
Beyond the major international chains – McDonald’s and Burger King, for example – other outside chains lately arrived hereabouts include Five Guys, Sonic and Carl’s Junior.
The upstart Mooyah will also look to compete with established local icons including Pick Quick, Frisko Freeze and Don’s in Pierce County and Big Tom, Eagan’s, Han’s and Norma’s in Thurston County. In King County there’s a second Pick Quick, the popular Kidd Valley and the inevitable Dick’s.
“I am charmed by the wealth of burger options in Washington,” said Heather Donahoe, public relations manager at the Washington Restaurant Association, on Monday.
“I feel like burgers are done on an independent level more here than in any other part of the West Coast. Washington is unique in the number of locally owned burger places. I think the burger stand, the local burger joint, isn’t just something that I’ve seen as much of in other places.”