Ground Round is Debt Free, Franchisee Owned and Growing Again with Two Brands

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Ground Round IOC announces debt retirement and expansions.

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"What began seven years ago as a move to save our brand has become a compelling franchise model with a brand that's well known and can still compete," states Gary Serino, Treasurer & CFO of the franchisee owned Cooperative.

Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative (IOC) makes their final bank payment this month to become debt free from its acquisition of the brand and franchise rights in 2004. "What began seven years ago as a move to save our brand has become a compelling franchise model with a brand that's well known and can still compete," states Gary Serino, Treasurer & CFO of the franchisee owned Cooperative. "Overall Comparable sales were even with last year, with more than half of our restaurants seeing increases, and four restaurants posting record sales for the 2010 year." New restaurant growth is also returning for this veteran brand. Several deals are in the works, including four with signed Letters of Intent (LOI) to open later this year. The launch of a second "Sports Grille" brand will also diversify its development opportunities.

Proving out a Unique Ownership Structure
In 2004 Ground Round franchise owners stepped up to raise nearly $5 million in cash and financing to acquire their brand and franchise rights. Since that time they've paid down all the debt, formed a Cooperative Structure to operate from, evolved the menu, upgraded prototypical building designs, and strengthened the leadership and support provided to operators. Each franchisee owns a Membership Share in the Cooperative, which grants them preferred fees, voting rights and a vested, financial interest in the overall growth and success of the brand. A Board of Managers, elected by the members, directs the staff and leads the affairs of the Cooperative. New franchise partners can join the brand with a traditional franchise agreement and fees, or they can purchase a Membership Share and enjoy the same preferred terms and vested interests as the founding franchise members. Presently 100% of its franchisees also own a Membership Share. "We've become a cohesive group of franchise owners who are all mutually committed to our role as caretakers of our brand, and we share a vested interest in its growth," says John Scharnweber, Franchisee and Board Member.

Growing with a Franchise Friendly Approach and Two Brands As with its operating structure, the Ground Round Grill & Bar franchise offering is also unique, including no requirement for multi-unit development or to contribute to a national ad fund, flexible five or ten year term options, and automatic, annual renewals thereafter. "Our franchisees are more in control of their short and long term destiny with our brand, and they are attracted by this approach and flexibility," notes Jack Crawford, President & CEO of the brand. "Presently we are closely communicating with several qualified leads in various markets, including four who have signed Letters of Intent (LOI) and are moving forward on sites to open later this year."

The growth plan also includes adding a "Sports Grille" brand for non-traditional development in smaller spaces, such as Airports and Bowling Centers. The first Ground Round Sports Grille was launched in Augusta, Maine in December within Sparetime Recreation's Bowling Center, and adjacent to an Ice Arena. The menu features many known Ground Round items along with a greater focus on appetizers, sandwiches, salads, kid's meals, pizza offerings, and adults can enjoy full liquor, beer and wine service. Andy Couture,Ground Round Franchisee for 20 years, opened the new Sports Grille,and is already planning to add another Grille in his bowling center in Lewiston, Maine. "We had an independent restaurant in our bowling center before, but when we renovated and added Ground Round's name and menu, sales have grown significantly as people know this brand and are more likely to frequent and enjoy the restaurant."

About Ground Round IOC
Ground Round IOC is a Franchisee owned and led Cooperative, LLC, with headquarters based in Freeport, Maine, and operates 24 Ground Round restaurants located in 10 states spread throughout the Midwest and Northeast areas of the United States. For more information, visit http://www.groundround.com. To download the high resolution versions of the graphics included in this news release please click here.

We're Even Better Than You Remember!
For more information contact: Jack Crawford, jcrawford(at)​groundround​(dot)com
President and CEO, Ground Round IOC, LLC, (207) 865-4433 – ext 664

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Jack Crawford
Ground Round IOC
(207) 865-4433 664
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