Gold Star Chili Franchise Review: Meet Sam Daoud, Franchise Director
Commitment to core values and culture combined with amazing food has resulted in a proven business model and loyal customers for 50-plus years
If you think you know Gold Star franchise, you might need to take another look. Gold Star has minimized the ‘Chili’ in its name and sets its sights on a much larger and less niche space: QSR, table service comfort food. Trendy new store design that captures customers’ nostalgia for brands of their childhood matched with the brands’ original burger recipes from its iconic Hamburger Heaven days are driving same-store sales and endearing a new generation of customers.
We talked with Sam Daoud, Franchise Director for Gold Star, who proudly shares the story of his father and uncles arriving in the U.S. with almost nothing and opening the very first Gold Star. Today, the business has more than 75 locations and is poised to bring its popular Cincinnati-style chili to a new generation nationwide.
This strong family foundation established more than 50 years ago is carried through the franchise’s very fabric, from a level of in-store hospitality and table service unheard of in the QSR space, to close-knit franchisee relations. It’s a business culture that stays true to the core values Gold Star was founded on, while simultaneously looking ahead and embracing innovation.
“Now is a good time to invest in Gold Star because we have never had the amount of support and data that we do today,” Daoud says. “We continue to push ourselves from a menu perspective, from a facilities perspective and from a growth perspective. We’ve proven this business through 55 years, growing from one location to the 78 locations we have today. We’ve grown throughout the years because of our dedication to our core values and our culture and because of the strong loyalty and patronage of our consumers.”
With a revamped menu that introduces new items while maximizing our signature Cincinnati-style chili, modern restaurant redesign and a proven business model that allows franchisees to thrive for decades, Gold Star is ready to expand beyond its Cincinnati roots to cities nationwide.
Constant innovation and strong communication help Gold Star franchise owners grow
Just like the proprietary spices and the commitment to hospitality that established Gold Star as a chili dynasty, franchisee support is serious business at Gold Star. The company has a 24-hour response policy for franchisees so that owners can feel confident that they not only have the latest technology at their fingertips but access to real-life support.
“We make operations easier for franchisees,” Daoud says. “It’s our role as franchisor to continually look at the industry and find ways to improve unit economics and simplify operations for our franchisees so that they can focus on their business growth. A franchisor’s biggest role is support for their franchisees … that’s one of the top reasons people want to get into franchising and we believe that it’s that support that has allowed us to be successful. From our perspective, we want to make it as easy as possible for franchisees to run their business and continue to run their business successfully.”
A legacy brand that has taken advantage of modern technology, Gold Star adds value for franchise owners through the PlayerLync operational support and training platform. Each restaurant has tablets that allow — in three clicks or less — employees and managers to get to a wide range of content, from training videos to operational support. This, paired with in-store and classroom training, ensures that every Gold Star franchisee is ready to run their business.
Customers have emotional ties to signature food and flavor
With a legacy brand like Gold Star comes a loyal fan base that has grown up with the food and the Gold Star experience spanning generations. Gold Star chili is made fresh daily at the company’s commissary and is shipped fresh and never frozen. Leadership has taken great care to honor this signature product, while offering a new generation of fans items that appeal to them.
“We wanted to evolve the chili experience without losing our soul,” Daoud says. “Chili is always the focal point. It’s our heritage. However, during a survey of 1,300 chili users in the Cincinnati market, roughly 75 percent of the respondents said if they were not coming to Gold Star they were going to get a burger, so it was a natural addition to the menu. Our burger is absolutely fantastic. It’s a fresh patty on a potato bun featuring proprietary seasoning, which links it back to the chili. We also make a heavenly sauce that is a tie back to Hamburger Heaven, our very first location, and it’s made in-house, which gives it that scratch kitchen feel and elevates the brand.”
Commitment to hospitality culture key to growth
Tying everything together is the Gold Star customer experience going back to the brand’s founders, who brought the hospitality culture so prevalent in their home country and ingrained it into their new American concept of chili. “It’s all about food, service and atmosphere,” Daoud says.
Gold Star is a regional brand with strong family and cultural roots that’s made strategic changes to ensure the brand’s longevity.
“We believe that we can expand anywhere with the new prototype and with the additional menu items such as our fresh grilled burgers, expanded fry line and made-to-order salads allows us to do just that.,” he says. “We can take our restaurant anywhere.”
Learn more about a Gold Star franchise
Gold Star is a tremendous opportunity in the $256 billion QSR industry. For the past 50+ years, Gold Star has won an enormous following in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area, where we excel at serving delicious comfort food with the kind of old-fashioned, family-style hospitality that is sorely lacking in the rest of the industry.
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