Up to 40 Smokey Bones could become Twin Peaks under new owner

Fat Brands, which owns both chains, said the conversions will fuel the 103-unit Twin Peaks as it heads toward a planned 2024 IPO.
The "sports lodge" brand is similar to Smokey Bones but has better AUVs. | Photo: Shutterstock

Fat Brands plans to use Smokey Bones as fuel for Twin Peaks’ fire.

As many as two-thirds of the barbecue chain’s 61 restaurants could be converted into Twin Peaks, the fast-growing “sports lodge” concept Fat Brands plans to take public next year.

The average Smokey Bones generates $3.5 million a year in sales, while Twin Peaks do $6 million on average, Fat Brands founder and Chairman Andy Wiederhorn told analysts at the LD Micro Main Conference last week. 

Converting the former to the latter “will really give us just rocket fuel on the growth of [Twin Peaks] during an IPO,” he said, according to a transcript on Sentieo/AlphaSense.

Fat Brands had been open about plans to acquire a Twin Peaks-like concept that it could easily convert as it looks to roughly double the chain’s footprint to 200 stores over the next several years. It found its answer in Smokey Bones, a full-service barbecue brand with a sports bar atmosphere. It bought the chain from Sun Capital for $30 million last week.

Wiederhorn said because of their similarities, flipping a Smokey Bones into a Twin Peaks can be done in just nine months compared to the two and a half years it would take to build a Twin Peaks from the ground up. He added that Smokey Bones management can largely stay in place, though the converted restaurants will need to staff the dining room with Twin Peaks Girls—waitresses dressed in revealing flannel tops and denim shorts.

The two brands have been headed in opposite directions. Smokey Bones sales rose just 2.2% last year, while Twin Peaks' leapt up nearly 23%, according to data from Technomic. 

The only reason Fat Brands isn’t turning every Smokey Bones into a Twin Peaks is because they’re already neighbors in some markets, Wiederhorn said.

At the same time, the company intends to continue growing Smokey Bones through franchising.

“Who doesn't want barbecue? Everyone does,” Wiederhorn said. “So we plan to grow it and franchise it across our system.” 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified Andy Wiederhorn as the CEO of Fat Brands. He is its founder and chairman.

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