Boston Market Announces new buy-in-free Franchise Program Amid Company Failures
Is Boston Market trying to plan a comeback? The rotisserie chicken brand that has faced over 100 lawsuits stemming from unpaid bills to landlords, employees, and suppliers and shuttered at least 200 restaurants — which NRN has covered in detail here — announced a new ownership program for potential franchisees this week.
The announcement of the buy-in-free “owner-operator profit center program” is the struggling brand’s first company announcement in 18 months. Dubbed “Boston Market Connect,” the company differentiates this program from a typical franchising structure by allowing entrepreneurs to own and operate a Boston Market without any franchise fees. The company encourages interested parties to fill out a form that asks them their basic contact information, restaurant experience, interest in owning a Boston Market, and when they’d want to get started.
“The Boston Market name stands for itself and it is well known throughout the country,” Boston Market parent company Rohan Group’s leader Jay Pandya said in a statement, adding that the company is specifically looking to expand in non-traditional real estate, like inside gas stations and delis. “Now, with everyone’s support we will be able to provide our famous rotisserie chicken and delicious, homemade sides and family meals to everyone. We encourage anyone with a location and a desire to add Boston Market virtually to reach out and partner with us.”
This announcement could be Pandya’s attempt to bring the company back from the brink of bankruptcy, and the buy-in-free structure is likely an incentive to encourage franchisees with little experience to give the struggling business a chance, starting in smaller locations, like inside delis and gas stations. Pandya himself declared personal bankruptcy last month, citing $10-$50 million in liabilities, and the same amount in assets. According to NRN sister publication, Restaurant Business, his bankruptcy request was recently dismissed because he had not provided insurance information on two properties he owned and was not responding to repeated requests for more information over the course of two weeks.
According to a couple of former Boston Market corporate employees, this new program is ploy to try to get more money out of people, and that currently, the corporate offices remain empty:
“At this point it’s just a way for him to scam someone,” Gina Busby, former area director of operations for Boston Market said. “He owes millions to employees in unpaid wages, me included. He didn’t report wages earned so people can’t get unemployment. He fraudulently report supervisors as 1099 employees. He hasn’t paid expenses owed. More lawsuits and class actions are coming his way.”
The owner-operator profit center program is not the only news Boston Market announced this week. In the same press release, the company stated that it would start rolling out a new menu item from a different country around the world every six weeks, starting with chicken tikka and biryani: both comfort food staples from Pandya’s native India. But this new menu initiative faces multiple roadblocks; several of Boston Market’s food suppliers are engaged in lawsuits against the company, with US Foods’ $11.3 million lawsuit likely being the most high-profile case. Over the summer, NRN spoke with current and former store employees, who stated that they had to source basic menu ingredients from local grocery stores because their supplier contracts had run out.
NRN reached out to Boston Market for further information on both the new owner incentive program and menu items, but did not receive a response in time for publication.