How BurgerFi Is Staging A Comeback

On July 10, 40-year fast-casual restaurant industry veteran Carl Bachmann joined BurgerFi International as CEO. The company, which owns premium burger brand BurgerFi and pizza chain Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, has struggled in recent years. Industry magazine QSR placed trust in the company when they named BurgerFi Breakout Brand of 2020. But growth has proven difficult. In 2020, then-president Charlie Guzzetta told QSR that the brand had plans to expand "well beyond" the 130 locations it operated at the time, but as of July 2023, closures have left the chain with just 114 restaurants. Sales have been lagging lately, too. At the end of 2023's second quarter, same-store sales dropped 10% year-over-year.

In November 2021, BurgerFi International acquired Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza & Wings. However, the acquisition came with its own issues. After stocks fell by 10%, stockholder rights law firm Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C. announced a class action lawsuit against BurgerFi International in April 2023. The suit alleged that BurgerFi misled stockholders by exaggerating the benefits of the acquisition.

But investors hope Bachmann's expertise will right the ship. The CEO has big plans. He strives to make decisions that benefit guests, team members, shareholders, and franchisees alike. First on the agenda: updating the menu. He plans to add new options, like crispy chicken, and improve old menu items that customers don't love. Bachmann hasn't forgotten about Anthony's, either. He wants to add a meatball dish and alfredo pasta, Italian restaurant staples that, he says, customers expect.

BurgerFi's new CEO hopes to turn the brand around

Despite BurgerFi's recent pitfalls, Bachmann sees promise in the brand — and market analysts see promise in Bachmann. The new CEO has a history of success at brands like Smashburger, Ruby Tuesday, and Bertucci's. Analysts at Beststocks and Nasdaq are hopeful that he'll turn the brand around, predicting success for BurgerFi investors. Bachmann plans to expand in the brand's home state of Florida and wants to "strategically" work up the East Coast, too. "There's a lot of great franchise operators out there that are looking for the next big brand," he told QSR.

The new CEO hasn't been the only source of promising news for the company. Known for its high-quality beef, the chain has received accolades from the general public and the restaurant industry alike. BurgerFi ranked third for Best Fast Casual Restaurant USA Today's 2023 Reader's Choice Awards, and the chain's BBQ Rodeo Burger earned the top spot in the Best Fast Food Burger category. The same burger won the prestigious "Very Best Burger" award at the 2023 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Investors, team members, and franchisees could have a lot to gain — but America's burger lovers would doubtlessly be the biggest winners if the award-winning chain becomes a nationwide success.