The Captain D’s Story
A strong, enduring Southern brand is ready for national expansion
The first Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant opened on August 15, 1969, in Donelson, Tennessee. It was a big hit with almost every demographic: parents with small children, senior citizens, and budget-conscious singles, all who found something to like on a menu that continued to expand while remaining reasonably priced.
Within four years there were 15 locations, and what had begun as Mr. D’s Seafood and Hamburgers had officially become Captain D’s. The restaurant’s focus became the fish and chips, shrimp, and side dishes that are our most popular menu items today.
Captain D’s franchising: growing through the decades
During the rest of the 1970s, Captain D’s franchises continued to evolve. Family-oriented programs such as the Kids’ Birthday Club were added, along with children’s comic books. This cemented Captain D’s as a family-friendly place for parents and grandparents, who brought children and their friends for special occasions, as well as for regular meals.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Captain D’s franchise opportunities grew throughout the Southeast. We implemented a new image and logo, as well as new restaurant interior and exterior designs. In 2012 we debuted an entirely new image. Gone are the “fisherman’s cabin” décor items, such as netting and fishing lures. In their place we’ve rolled out a physical presence that reflects a low-key, casual, colorful coastal lifestyle. Now a trip to Captain D’s is like visiting your favorite beachside resort and restaurant.
Evolution is behind ongoing success
“We have a very diverse customer base, and we always have,” says Michael Arrowsmith, Chief Development Officer. “Millennials are our largest growing segment as they seek dining options for their young families. We also still have a strong senior citizen customer base that is loyal to our more traditional menu items, such as batter-dipped fish and hush puppies. They raised their children with us and they bring their grandchildren in now.”
Those grandchildren, Michael continues, “are looking for healthier options, and they gravitate to our new grilled menu. They want the protein in their diet that fish has to offer and they want healthy sides. Ours are made fresh in the restaurant every day. These guests know that, and it matters to them.”
“We’ve always set the bar high for guest experience,” continues Brad Reed, Vice President of Franchise Operations. “We give them an experience they may not have been expecting when they walk through the door. We deliver on hospitality, and that’s why we are a valued dining experience for everyone from retirees who come in after church to white-collar business people looking for a delicious, nutritious lunch that doesn’t feel like fast food. Young families are a growing part of our guest base as well, because we truly do have something for everyone in the family on our menu.”
Continued growth, now all across the U.S.
There are now more than 515 Captain D’s restaurants in the United States, and that number is growing. Why? Because our great food, low prices and outstanding service set us apart. Customers know they are valued at Captain D’s franchises — our people make sure of it and our food backs them up. We’ve seen a lot of growth in our nearly 50 years of business and are poised for even greater things going forward.
“Our brand is poised for growth in the industry,” adds CEO Phil Greifeld. “Captain D’s inspires tremendous loyalty from its existing guest base and is drawing in new guests from across the broadest possible demographics — from young families to senior citizens. That is only going to continue as more people see our expanded menu and redesigned restaurants. This is an excellent time to explore this opportunity.”