ORANGE PARK - Grumpy’s Restaurant is looking for franchisees to expand the brand of the “Bad Mood Dude.”
Daniel DeLeon acquired Grumpy’s, which serves Southern-style comfort food for breakfast and lunch, in November of 2017.
DeLeon aimed to open restaurants in Miami, but the deal fell through. He sold his house, and in the middle of the transition, he said the opportunity to buy Grumpy’s occurred.
“It fell into our laps,” DeLeon said. “It was so odd and amazing.”
He remodeled several facets of the restaurant, such as the interior, air conditioning and the roof. The menu and the character of Grumpy also received a facelift.
DeLeon went to Clay High. His wife, Morgan, is a co-owner.
Now he’s developed a plan for interested parties to open their own Grumpy’s franchises. A St. Johns County location is set to open by the end of 2020.
DeLeon sees franchisees as long-time partners that fit the culture of Grumpy’s. He said Grumpy’s would open in calculated and guided fashion, similar to the neighborhood diner feel of the Kingsley Avenue location.
“(Franchisees) have to believe in what we’re doing and that it works,” DeLeon said. “It’s a model that’s been done many times over, as opposed to me trying to build a huge corporate structure to open these stores myself.”
What makes Grumpy’s an effective brand, he said, was fresh made-to-order food, the old school Americana ambiance and low prices in tune with working class and small communities. He said he wanted customers to be on a first-name basis with staff the way they would be with a barber or bartender.
“To me, it’s about the price point. It has to be honest. I don’t believe in pushing the envelope on our consumer,” DeLeon said. “You’re never going to see avocado toast for $15 on our menu.”
DeLeon said his marketing research showed people wanted a hearty home-cooked meal before work or during lunch hour. The younger generations wanted a place to hang out and to take pictures of items like the s’mores waffles and cinnamon roll pancakes for social media.
Combining those groups didn’t mean Grumpy’s had to be high-end, he said.
“It’s a blend,” DeLeon said.
More information about franchising is available at grumpysrestaurantco.com.