First Watch restaurant chain plans expansion


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First Watch is growing far beyond its Florida roots. Last week Nation’s Restaurant News reported on the chain’s nationwide expansion plans including recently inked deals for Nashville and Milwaukee.

The country’s largest and fastest-growing, privately owned, daytime-only restaurant company in the United States plans to grow to 115 restaurants, with about a dozen franchised locations open and more than 30 in various stages of development by the end of 2012. 

The chain of casual eateries, known best for inspiring menu items such as carrot cake pancakes and the signature, Crepeggs, has enjoyed positive same-store sales growth for 25 consecutive years. Total sales were $83 million in 2009 and $89 million in 2010. Average unit volume is approximately $1.2 million per year.

While annual sales for First Watch have continued to grow despite the recession, other concepts have been hit hard by a decline in the lunch daypart. Packaged Facts said that after a 4% decline in 2009 and another 3% decline in 2010, lunch daypart sales are set to pick up in 2011 which bodes well for the continued success of First Watch.