Health-conscious consumers gravitate towards low-fat, low-carb meals, and Captain D’s evolving menu meets that need
According to the U.S. government’s 2013 “Fisheries of the United States” report, Americans were only eating 0.7% more seafood than they did the year before — 14.5 pounds in total. So why would anyone want to open a seafood franchise restaurant?
Because seafood is what health-conscious consumers want, and they would be eating more of it if they had available options. That’s where Captain D’s dominates the fast-casual dining marketplace.
Consumers say they believe seafood to be much healthier than burgers, pizza and even chicken. They’re right. Low fat, high protein — it’s at the top of every diet recommendation. USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that a weekly diet includes at least two servings of seafood. According to Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm, nearly three-quarters of people who are eating more seafood say they are doing so to eat more healthfully. And it’s no wonder that seafood, with benefits such as reduced risks of heart disease, improved baby brain wellness and increased memory for seniors, is becoming an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Even better news for seafood franchising owners is that this trend crosses all age demographics. Younger diners want inventive, satisfying entrees as part of a healthy lifestyle. Older diners want the health benefits of seafood, and they also enjoy longtime favorites such as Captain D’s batter dipped Alaska pollock.
But here’s the big news: According to Technomic, only 6% of seafood entrees on menus in the United States are found in fast-casual restaurants. That means Captain D’s isn’t competing in a crowded marketplace. It is the marketplace.
Seafood franchise opportunities: the chicken revolution, now with seafood
Twenty years ago fast food menus underwent a major change shifting from burgers and fries to lighter, healthier options – most notably chicken. Currently that kind of shift is happening again, and this time the focus is on seafood. Captain D’s is driving that effort.
“The biggest opportunity is reminding people they want to eat more seafood meals,” says CEO Phil Greifeld. “We have done a lot of research on consumers’ dining habits and the vast majority say they love seafood. When we ask why they don’t eat it more often they say they don’t think of it more often. Why? Because they don’t see the seafood option when they are driving down the street. They see five burger joints and six pizza chains, but no seafood. We are changing that, and that’s why we are moving aggressively to expand in our current markets, as well as into new parts of the country.”
Grilled seafood opens new frontiers
There is an evolution underway in the fast-casual dining space, and industry analysts say that fish is now where chicken was 20 years ago. Every major player in the restaurant industry has added at least one or two fish offerings to the menu. At Captain D’s, we have a menu that’s almost entirely fish, along with a few chicken and beef options.
Captain D’s is the most authentic seafood franchise opportunity in fast-casual dining today — it’s where we’ve been for almost 50 years. While others are scrambling to add fish to their menus, we’re expanding and enhancing our offerings. Captain D’s has no close competitors for quality and value at the price points we offer.
“We have higher food quality, we have higher hospitality levels and we have more offerings than anyone else in the QSR space,” says CEO Phil Greifeld. “And since our remodeling we look and feel different too. Nobody else is doing what we are doing, and you can’t say that for burger, chicken, or Mexican chains. Our competitors may try to offer fish, but they don’t do well when they do. Nobody can really compete with us.”
Vertical and horizontal growth
A Captain D’s seafood franchise is a great opportunity for any entrepreneur who wants a lot of room to grow. Success is possible in two distinct ways:
Same-store volume. Our Average Unit Volume, or AUV, has been increasing every year since 2012, with this year poised to break even more records.
Few direct competitors. If you already operate restaurants in your area, Captain D’s won’t be cannibalizing your other locations. There’s really nothing like Captain D’s in the market, so it will draw people who are specifically seeking seafood over burgers, chicken or pizza.
“We are clearly in growth mode,” Phil says. “We believe quality begets more quality. As we get better and better as a brand, and as we continue to heighten our level of menu innovation — along with our remodeling — we are really reintroducing ourselves to our guests. If they have been in before they are amazed at the change. If they have not been into one of our restaurants before, they enjoy having real silverware and plateware. They enjoy a menu with many options — and they see items that they want to try on their next visit.”
Authentic brand, superior product
Captain D’s will not be outdone when it comes to quality seafood. We can tell you where your fish is caught, thanks to our use of sustainable fishing grounds near Alaska. We also use the entire cut, or fillet, of the fish for our products — no piecing together scraps and then breading it to hold the whole thing together. Our fish fillet flakes when it’s cut, just like it’s supposed to.
At Captain D’s, quality and service have always gone hand-in-hand. It’s why our brand has done nothing but grow during the nearly 50 years we’ve been in business, and it’s why we are capturing a growing share of the fast-casual market today.
“In our focus group interviews we receive a lot of constructive feedback. Our rejuvenated brand is attracting a very diverse consumer base. Whether it is dining parties with kids, millennials, seniors, or ethnic groups, our updated menu has something for everyone,” Phil says. “Former guests, and consumers in general, remember Captain D’s, so now our goal is to make them aware that we have made some big changes. We have upgraded our products, we have added products, and we have created a whole new experience for them to enjoy.”