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Greene Turtle opens sixth location in Virginia

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

Building on a brand name that some Virginians associate with a beach vacation, The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille has opened its sixth location in the Old Dominion at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington. Located on the ground floor of Tech’s seven-story, 144,000-square-foot facility, the 7,200-square-foot restaurant opened Monday.  “We have a commitment currently to have at least seven more in Virginia,” company COO Bob Barry said in an interview with Virginia Business. “Our goal statewide is to have 25 units.”

The Greene Turtle, a sports-themed bar and grill that appeals to young families as well as the 25-to 40-year-old age group, got its start in Ocean City, Md., in 1976. “Strategically, brand awareness in Virginia is strong. People visit Ocean City and they know the name, and they come to the District where we do a lot of sporting events,” said Barry. 

Typically the chain, now based in Edgewater, Md., sells more food than alcohol. “We’re equal parts restaurant and equal parts sports bar and viewing.  We sell 70 percent food, and 30 percent alcohol, so our mix is good,” said Barry. “When you come to our restaurant, you will see young families to senior citizens.” 

The Greene Turtle is known for comfort food, a casual atmosphere and large-screen televisions in every booth, so patrons can enjoy individual viewing. Barry says what sets The Greene Turtle apart from other sports bar franchises is that “we’re not cookie cutter.  Not every location is exactly the same.” While the feel and style of the core package is similar, restaurants vary in size from the 2,700-square-
foot facility at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport to a 12,500-square-foot location in Hunt Valley, Md.

For that same reason, franchise costs vary. “Franchise fee and royalties are all the same, but construction costs can vary, depending on if it’s a free-standing building, or a conversion,” said Barry, who did not disclose specific fees.

Franchisee Sattar Shaik opened the Arlington site, six months after opening a Greene Turtle in the Dulles Town Center in Sterling last July. Currently, the chain also has locations in Chesapeake, Hampton, Fredericksburg and Leesburg. Shaik plans to open two more sites in Northern Virginia, and a separate group has signed an agreement to develop five franchises in Fairfax County.

According to Barry, the company will focus on putting additional franchises in the Hampton Roads, Blacksburg and Richmond markets. Altogether the, company wants to expand to 150 eastern U.S. restaurants, with its units now concentrated in the Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and Delaware areas.

According to Entrepreneur’s annual Franchise 500 ranking out this month, The Greene Turtle’s franchise network grew by 40 percent in both 2010 and 2011. The company has made the top 500 list for three consecutive years.

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