This Fast-Food Company Says Its Strategy Helped it Achieve Record Growth Even During COVID-19 — Here's How it Did it

The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

The coronavirus pandemic has proven itself to be a daunting foe to humanity. The virus disrupted every facet of social life. So far, the virus has claimed approximately 5 million lives out of about 248 million reported cases. 

As part of the measures to halt the further spread of the virus, new protocols like social distancing were put in place, restricting mass gatherings and forcing people to stay distant or indoors. It paused work from the office, family eat-outs, date nights, and fun memories at restaurants.

Luckily, governments and the medical community have been aggressively fighting back, gradually reclaiming some ground the world had lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccine rollouts are slowly helping lives bounce back to normalcy, and businesses are also picking up the pieces from what has been an economic nightmare.

Crippled Restaurants

Like most sectors, the hospitality industry — including restaurants — was severely buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have recorded slow or no growth, while others are still scrambling to adjust.

Many restaurants and food establishments like McDonald’s Corp. MCD, Burger King or Restaurant Brands International Inc. QSR, Wendy’s Co. WEN, and KFC or Yum! Brands Inc. YUM have struggled to keep their heads above water because of restrictions in sit-down service. But some are doing better, and one example of a name in the food business, Muscle Maker Inc. GRIL, has found a way to beat the odds and survive the shocks of the pandemic.

Founded in 1995 in Colonia, New Jersey, the fast-food chain states that it serves healthy, high-quality, great-tasting food freshly prepared with proprietary recipes. Despite the pandemic, the company has seen tremendous growth and expanded into new markets.

The company says its Muscle Maker Grill was established as an antidote to fast food. This chain of fast-casual restaurants offers healthy versions of favorite dishes that taste great — it’s delicious food with the customer’s health in mind.

At the heart of the company’s DNA is its goal to make a difference in the way Americans eat. Muscle Maker Grill’s menu has options for high-protein, low-carb, gluten-free, and organic dishes that are always served fresh.

Muscle Maker’s Superfit Foods and Pokemoto restaurants also offer freshly prepared meals to customers. The company has grown from 1 tiny store to an international brand in 40 locations with over 750 employees.

Staying Safe and Winning During COVID-19

During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the eatery said it recognized the impact the virus outbreak would have on its business and quickly ramped up operations to enable it to provide uninterrupted services to Americans.

Aside from serving customers from its corporate restaurants and existing franchise models, Muscle Maker kept an eye on the future to prepare the company for shifts in the marketplace.

Expansions like that at Camp Elmore and various virtual concepts saw the company offer delivery-only kitchens to customers. Muscle Maker Grill has been providing meal plans and take-out and delivery services for a while now.

Considering how the coronavirus is easily contagious, the healthy eatery says that it also took considerable strides to protect both employees and guests according to safety protocols by issuing and following its standard operating procedures guide covering guest safety measures, employee wellness, and restaurant sanitation.

To enhance its services, the company launched third-party ordering — GrubHub, owned by Just Eat N.V. GRB; UberEats owned by Uber Technologies Inc. UBER, DoorDash Inc. DASH and others — in corporate restaurants to provide safe and convenient ordering for guests.

Captain of the Ship

Driving the ship during the most difficult time was Michael J. Roper, CEO of Muscle Maker. 

Since May 1, 2018, when he took over, Roper has brought his unique experience from owning and operating several franchise locations to Muscle Maker.

Before joining the company, he served as CEO of Taco Bueno from 2015 through 2017. He was responsible for defining strategy and providing leadership to 162 company-owned and operated locations and 23 franchised locations.

He also served as chief operating officer and chief development and technology officer at the same company.

Before joining Taco Bueno, Roper was a franchise owner and operator of the IMS Barter franchise and held several roles with Quiznos Subs from 2000 to 2012. He started as a franchise owner and was later appointed as the chief operating officer and executive vice president of operations in 2009.


Over the past 8 months, Muscle Maker has acquired Superfit Foods (a meal prep company producing over 200,000 meals annually), Pokemoto (a Hawaiian Poke concept which has grown to 18 open units) and recently announced on Nov. 1, 2021, that it had inked a master franchise agreement for 40 units in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, growing the company’s international footprint by 400%.

Even though the pandemic has crippled many businesses, the fast-food eatery says it has managed to absorb the shocks and find a silver lining in the COVID-19 storm for growth.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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