BurgerFi says turnaround is coming later this year

Comp sales in 4Q were down 9% in preliminary results for the better-burger brand, but CEO Carl Bachmann said the foundation is in place for recovery.
BurgerFi is scheduled to open a new flagship in New York City in a few weeks. |Photo: Shutterstock.

BurgerFi ended 2023 with same-store sales plummeting 9% in preliminary results for the fourth quarter, but CEO Carl Bachmann expressed confidence this will be the year his turnaround efforts take hold.

For the quarter ended Jan. 1, BurgerFi International Inc. said the 9% decline in systemwide sales for its 108-unit better-burger brand was blamed in part on headwinds and cannibalization in Florida. The comp sales, however, marked a sequential improvement from the third quarter, when BurgerFi’s same-store sales dropped 11%.

Bachmann, who joined the company in July, has initiated a five-point turnaround plan to drive growth, both for the fast-casual BurgerFi and the full-service Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings sister brand, which has 60 units and is almost entirely company owned. Anthony’s saw same-store sales drop 3% for the fourth quarter.

For the year, systemwide same-store sales declined 7% for BurgerFi and decreased 1% for Anthony’s.  

At the ICR Conference in Orlando on Tuesday, Bachmann said the turnaround plan is expected to bring results in the second half of 2024 with a number of initiatives now in play.

The company has strengthened its infrastructure and integrated the Anthony’s side, which was acquired in 2021. BurgerFi has done some work on its menu, eliminating some less popular and complex items and introducing things like jumbo chicken wings. And the company has worked on its real estate portfolio, which in the third quarter included closing five underperforming units.

Bachmann said the company has also created operational standards and processes for both brands, and is preparing for a marketing push to raise brand awareness.

There are other efforts coming this year. The company is planning to roll out a new point-of-sales system, for example, and will begin franchising the Anthony’s brand. For 2024, 10 to 15 new franchised restaurant openings are expected, including one new Anthony’s.

In Florida, the company opened its first dual-branded Anthony’s/BurgerFi location in December as part of a deal that will also bring three more of the pizza restaurants to Florida over the next two years. Later this month, BurgerFi will reopen in New York City with a flagship unit that will include a Better Burger Lab.

Bachmann is looking to grow both brands in nontraditional locations, focusing on the Eastern Seaboard, saying, “The hubris of ‘I can put up a brick and mortar and people will come to me’ is passe.”

His plan is to go where people are, like casinos and movie theaters. Last year, for example, a BurgerFi opened in partnership with a movie theater in New York and that unit is tracking $3 million in revenue, Bachmann said.

“It seeds the market and creates demand,” he said of the strategy. “And then you can go in and open brick and mortar.”


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