Can sign

Drew Brees-backed Smalls Sliders looks to open 22 locations across the Phoenix metro

February 28, 2024
Drew Brees-backed Smalls Sliders looks to open 22 locations across the Phoenix metro

Smalls Sliders, an Atlanta-based cheeseburger chain backed by former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and private equity firm 10 Point Capital, has signed its largest franchise agreement to date to bring more than 20 locations to the Phoenix metro.

The move extends the footprint for Smalls, which currently only has sites open in Louisiana and Mississippi, into the western U.S. The company has several other development agreements in place throughout the South.

Smalls signed a deal with Tampa-based Purple Square Management (PSM) to open 22 locations in the Valley. Founded in 2006 by Vik and Sanjay Patel, PSM operates more than 250 franchise locations across the country including Baskin Robbins, Popeyes and Take Five.

Prior to signing the deal for Phoenix, PSM already had two franchise agreements with Smalls in Atlanta and Tampa and when the company’s CEO, Vik Patel, saw that Smalls was looking for growth partners in Arizona, he jumped on that. Patel has a history in Phoenix — owning Rent-A- Centers in the Valley at one point — and wanted to get back in Arizona and take advantage of the growth here.

Patel also has a history with Brees — they co-owned a handful of Dunkin’ franchises in Louisiana — so he was attracted to the brand from a business standpoint but said that the food really sets it apart from the competition.

“A slider isn’t really anything new … but [the Smalls slider] truly is one of the best sliders I’ve ever had in my life,” Patel said. “Nothing comparable, in my opinion, in the franchise industry.”

Smalls Sliders has tiny real estate needs

Another intriguing aspect for Patel was the size of the eatery locations and the ease of opening new stores. The Smalls buildings are 800 square feet, prefabricated, modular and come with a decorative recycled shipping container on the top. They are drive-thru only and take up very little real estate.

Depending on the site, Patel said a Smalls location could be put on a third of an acre if it is able to share parking with an adjacent shopping center or grocery store. If the site requires Smalls to build its own parking, Patel said he’s looking at sites that are 0.5 or 0.6 of an acre.

“We’re expecting big volume. We would like to have ample room for our employees to park and for our customers to go through the drive-thru,” Patel said. “But where you really benefit is not necessarily needing to have months and months of construction when you can just get the site and pad ready and then come and plop this building on top and then a few weeks later you’re operational.”

PSM has already made one trip out to the Valley to look at real estate and Patel said the strategy is to get the “A++” sites and be willing to pay more for the best locations.

“We certainly don’t want to compromise on the real estate,” Patel said. “People have options and outside of the quality of your operations, the quality of your real estate is probably as important or more important.”

In its announcement, PSM said it expects to have its first locations open in the Valley by mid-2025, but Patel told the Business Journal that if they are able to secure real estate faster, he would move faster and open some locations in Phoenix as soon as possible.

Source: Phoenix Business Journal

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