FT. LAUDERDALE, FL-Tossed, a restaurant chain specializing in salads, may only have three units right now, but company executives have big plans for the concept. They are forecasting 25 to 30 new units next year, a total of 200 in five years and an eventual stores count of 1,000 in the US.

The locally based chain currently operates two units in New York City in Manhattan and another in Livingston, NJ. A Ft. Lauderdale unit is scheduled to open early next year, and the company will start the chain’s initial expansion in Florida and New Jersey, Eric Schmitt, Tossed’s president and CEO, told GSR.

Beyond that, the company will target all of the major markets in the US, as well as selected secondary trade areas, where the 2,400-sf stores are near other high-traffic tenants. “We’d like to be in strip centers that have a lot of draw,” he says.

Tossed offers specialty salads, and customers can build their own from an extensive list of ingredients. Also on the menu are sandwiches, soups and crepes. The average ticket price, says Schmitt, is $9.50 to $10.

Though the first stores are corporate units, Tossed executives are looking to franchise the rest of the chain. The initial investment is between $261,200 and $436,000, and includes a $25,000 franchise fee.

To attract potential franchise operators, Tossed will have to produce a sales-to-investment ratio of 2.5 to one, says Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of Food Strategies at Columbus, OH-based WD Partners, a multi-unit design and development firm. The chain could have challenges in some markets competing with Wendy’s and other chains that offer cheaper salads, he says.

But Schmitt says that Tossed is a more upscale concept than fast food chains and will likely attract a different customer base. “We truly are a quality salad that you’re not going to find at a Wendy’s,” he says.

For his part, Lombardi says, “Can they grow that fast coming out of the shoot? It’s been done before,” he says. “‘What makes them better than their alternatives?’ is the question.”

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