Patriots ex-star Garrett Mills throwing himself in the food game

The average Rib Crib Barbecue restaurant reportedly brings in more than $1.37 million in revenue annually.

Former New England Patriots tight end Garrett Mills is catching the attention of thousands.

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The 36-year-old from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is now the chief executive officer of fast-casual barbecue restaurant RibCrib and is turning the brand into rapidly expanding chain.

RibCrib, headquartered in Mills’ hometown, currently operates in eight states but is looking to expand, adding up to six new restaurants and eight franchise agreements in 2020.

For its new growth strategy, the chain is leaning into a small-format store model, which could add more real-estate options in smaller cities, as well as a simplified menu, which includes options like slow-cooked brisket hickory-smoked ribs and pulled pork.

“Our core business is about to surpass 30 percent off-premises, so [we’re] thinking through how we maximize efficiencies in our buildings,” Mills said in a report this week on QSR. “It’s a convergence of all those factors that leads us to believe our counter-service model creates not only an opportunity for us, but an opportunity for future franchisees, as well.”

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Mills is no stranger to running a business, either. After ending his professional football career in 2012, he graduated Northwestern University with a Master of Business Administration and spent a few years at investment management firm Goldman Sachs.

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He sees big things for the RibCrib: “We see big opportunity for this. Clearly right now we’re a regional brand and it’s probably easier … to just slowly broaden from the footprint we have today,” Mills says. “But [we’re putting] our brand out there to hopefully get interest from some big multiunit heavy-hitters. We see the opportunity being more on a national scale.”

According to franchisehelp.com, Rib Crib's franchise fee is $35,000. The total investment to open and operate a franchise ranges from $400,000 to $1.3 million and the parent company collects a 4 percent royalty fee on gross sales. The average Rib Crib Barbecue restaurant reportedly brings in more than $1.37 million in revenue annually.

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