Business Profiles

by Cobb & Co.

last updated 02/04/2018

Cobb & Co.

by Cobb & Co.

last updated 02/04/2018

Hospitality veteran brings Cobb & Co. back to Porirua after a public campaign

Threescore years and ten would seem time to kick back, potter around and enjoy retirement. ‘No way, not me,’ exclaims 70-years-young Grant Bell. With his wife Denise, Grant can’t wait for mid-2018 when they’ll open the red doors on their new family restaurant in Porirua. Nor can the local community – it was a Facebook page called Bring Cobb & Co. back to Porirua that sparked off the whole thing. 

The Facebook page was the brainchild of former Porirua City mayor, Nick Leggett, who says he was brought up eating at the local Cobb & Co. which closed in 1997. ‘I loved the atmosphere and the food, and when I heard that Cobb & Co. had revitalised the brand under its new owners, I wanted to get people talking.’ His campaign worked better than he could ever have imagined. 

Having agreed to sell to a hospitality group the Stokes Valley bar and restaurant they had owned for six years, Grant and Denise were enjoying their retirement but missing a business challenge. Grant can’t remember how he arrived at Nick’s Facebook page, but it got the cogs whirring and fond memories of Cobb & Co. came flooding back. Having previously owned a motel he had experienced first-hand the benefits of being a franchisee so, despite suggestions from friends and family that he was crazy to consider starting yet another hospitality business at his age, he decided to check out the new owners. He came away very impressed. 

‘They’d re-worked the menu to keep the old favourites and introduced new ones for modern tastes,’ he says. ‘There was an emphasis on freshness and quality ingredients such as Angus Pure beef and, above all, a focus on efficiency, productivity and the bottom line.’ Having an information technology background, Grant was also highly impressed with the i-Pad order-taking that communicates directly with the kitchen and the integrated systems that make it easy for franchisees to measure and manage cost of goods, output and profitability. 

old favourite, new vision

Cobb & Co. has been galloping on the comeback trail since Ben and Sue Gower, Tauranga landlords-turned-restaurateurs, put the sizzle back into their Cobb & Co. restaurant before buying the brand outright in 2013. Since then, three new restaurants have opened, proving that the combination of a modern family dining concept with an old favourite name is a winning one. At the same time, the company has developed and implemented industry-leading systems to help franchisees achieve the best possible return on their investment. 

It’s a combination that has already proved massively successful in Rotorua, Taupo and, most recently, the newly-opened franchise in Dunedin. ‘Mums and dads are lining up to introduce their kids to favourite Cobb & Co. dishes and drinks of their childhood,’ says Nathan Bonney, the company’s COO and one of the most experienced food franchisors in the country. ‘Meanwhile, the older generation are joining their grown-up children and grandkids at Cobb & Co. where there’s something for everyone.’ Grant can’t wait to see the success repeated in Porirua. 

‘From the moment we met Nathan, he was interested in us and we in him,’ says Grant. ‘Given our hospitality experience, we know how important it is to have good processes in place, so he told us a lot more about the massive effort the Cobb & Co. team have put into menu development, purchasing and systems. These enable franchisees to meet their targets within a matter of months from opening. We also told Nathan how we planned to build this opportunity into an asset for our blended family of adult children, who will be involved in the business. 

‘With all systems go, we looked at potential sites in the city centre and settled on the one recommended by Nathan and his team. It’s right in the centre with easy parking so no-one can miss us and will be a 220-seat restaurant with areas catering for everything from a quiet lunch through to a full-on family party. 

30 outlets planned

Cobb & Co. is planning to open at least 20 of the new-look restaurants over the next few years and is looking for franchisees nationwide. The investment is from $500,000 to $1 million including full fit-out, equipment, systems and training, and much of it can be financed. 

Nathan says, ‘Obviously we’re very excited to have such experienced operators as Grant and Denise join us, and we’d love to hear from other successful businesspeople too – whether they have a hospitality background or not. We’ve made the back end easy so franchisees can concentrate on running a good business and delivering a great experience to their guests. 

‘The amazing Facebook campaign in Porirua has proved that Cobb & Co. is still one of New Zealand’s best-known, best-loved brands, and we’re getting amazing publicity from it – even Duncan Garner expressed his delight at the revamp in a segment on the AM Show. 

‘We have excellent locations available throughout the country and, as Porirua and Dunedin have shown, a loyal crowd of fans ready and waiting. To find out more details about the Cobb & Co. opportunity, contact me now.’  

See this advertorial on page 47 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 26 Issue 4 

Contact details for Cobb & Co.

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