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Simbha

Houston chains with the best chance to grow

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I was at James Coney Island the other day with a friend, and I was wondering where the company was based...

... Imagine my surprise when I found out that they're based right here in Houston! (I had no idea!)

So, this got me thinking: James Coney Island seems to have strong potential to develop into a national chain.

Then, I started thinking about other Houston-based companies with a wholly or mostly regional presence that have a good chance to grow into national or international chains. Here's a short list of my candidates:

- Cafe Express (currently, 21 locations in the Houston area)

- HostGator (#1 web hosting provider in Houston, #21 nationally)

- Shipley Do-nuts (220 stores across much of the South)

- Leisure Learning Unlimited (Continuing education)

I also think the following - which have a national presence of some sort - have the potential to become even bigger brands:

- Landry's Restaurants

- Francesca's Collections

- Men's Wearhouse

Just wondering what others think. What are your favorite local chains that have the potential to 'make it big'?

Edited by Simbha

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There are 21 Cafe Express around? Jeez, I had no idea $12 salads were so popular. Shipley's are the worst donuts in the city. I go to a few non-chain ones when we get donuts, way better.

Did Berryhill start here? Maybe that one.

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Walter Berryhill was a street vendor in the River Oaks area from the 30s thru 1960, selling tamales from a cart. When investors revived the idea, supposedly with his recipes, the original location was on Westheimer one block east of Kirby and the cart was on display outside the restaurant which was Berryhill Tamales. Walter did not sell fish tacos, Baja style. Good candidate for expansion. Website says they have a location in Austin and Cancun, more on the way in Mexico (?), Galveston, and North Carolina.

Cafe Express website also lists locations in Dallas and Austin; I'm sure they'd like to expand. Wendy's owned a big share in CE for a while but sold it back for some reason.

JCI has had a location in Austin but it failed. I also read years ago someone from Houston had supposedly encountered a location somewhere in the Midwest or maybe it was Minneapolis. They need to expand the menu and brand beyond hot dogs. There are hot dog crazy parts of the nation - Chicago, NYC, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, which calls itself the hot dog capital of the world and where hot dog joints are apparently as common as Tex Mex places here. JCI probably wouldn't do well there but might have a shot elsewhere. Problem is, most people don't take hot dogs all that seriously, hence the need to expand the identity beyond hot dogs..

I think the idea of the investor group that bought the rights to the Antone's name and recipes intended to expand beyond Houston but I'm not sure what they've done. They're available everywhere here.

Landry's is already the biggest operator in it's field I think. I'm sure they'll keep expanding anyway they can, including acquisition.

Houston is known as a great burger town. People on this board go gaga over new burger chains coming to town, why I don't know. How about a Houston based burger chain? Pappas would be in a position since they've already taken Pappadeaux and Pappasito's far beyond Texas. How about Beck's Prime? Sorry. I think most of our best burger joints are just that - joints. And mom and pop owned. I'd hate to see them ruined by going the franchise/chain route, which they undoubtedly would be. You can have Pappas and Beck's though.

Both Fadi's and Dimassi's have expanded beyond Houston and probably will continue to grow.

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