Effective Restaurant Growth Strategies During The Pandemic

Effective Restaurant Growth Strategies During The Pandemic
Sam Mustafa, CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group shares his insight on how to establish an effective restaurant growth strategy in the height of the pandemic and many restaurant closures. While many restaurants were failing, the pandemic brought Charleston Hospitality Group to unexpected success, with the nationwide expansion of their Toast All Day concept. If you’re considering expansion, this is the time to reflect and ask yourself, “Are you ready to expand? Is your strategy prepared for the post-pandemic growth fueled by new consumer trends and innovations in technology?”


Take the Leap.
Thinking about taking the leap and expanding your restaurant brand? I made the leap in August 2020, at the height of the pandemic, with my Toast! All Day restaurant concept and have not looked back since. To current and future restaurateurs and hospitalians, my advice for you is to take the leap, take action and make sure you have a planned strategy in place.


Where It All Started.
Growing and expanding your business quickly sounds like an enticing idea, especially when your restaurant profit margins are increasing. Guests are happy and employee morale is high. Throughout my executive career, I have opened 10+ restaurant concepts and 15+ locations throughout the SouthEast. You could say that after the first few openings, I have been able to have this process down to a science!


Let’s start from when it all began. In 2008, I established Charleston Hospitality Group and Catering. In creating this company, my idea began with providing guests an unmatched experience that everyone can enjoy from sunup to sundown.


When deciding to expand one of my concepts over the other, it was a no brainer. While I admire all of my restaurant brands, Toast! All Day has always held a sweet spot for me… literally. This concept encompasses the southern experience and is a destination for both locals and tourists to enjoy and celebrate life’s possibilities- with a mimosa and sweet southern specialty near-by, of course.


Sam Mustafa Ribbon cutting


Have an Effective Strategy.


Growth starts with a long-term plan and lots of patience. You have to be willing to invest and put in some sweat equity to build your empire. Understanding that this process does not happen overnight and that you will encounter many mountains and valleys along the way is the most challenging obstacle.


My strategy, consistent with the Forbes article, “Want to Grow Your Restaurant Franchise, Here’s How” details the basic foundation for expanding your franchise. According to this article and my personal attestment, some commonalities that are consistent with successful franchise owners include:


  1. Be prepared
  2. Don’t expand too quickly
  3. Establish strong relationships with partners
  4. Qualify strong franchise partners, then qualify them again
  5. Provide effective training and resources


Now, let’s start from the top- being prepared. This includes a step-by-step approach to finding the right location, based on market research. From there comes all things interior and exterior design, signage, equipment, restaurant layout, pricing and establishing internal, consistent operational procedures.


Toast All Day Construction


Slow and steady win the race. Although tempting to keep accepting offers, it is important to qualify high-performing stores that are in well established locations for long-term growth. This will mitigate future restaurant closures. This is especially important in current times, as the success of restaurants during the pandemic is dependent on location, local laws, demographics and foot traffic.


Toast of Charleston Downtown


Caption: Toast of Charleston, located downtown Charleston has been one of our highest performing locations with year-long longevity based on all elements described above.


Through carefully selecting your business partners including franchisees, suppliers, vendors and distributors sets you up for early success by aligning strategies to support your company.


The best thing a franchise owner can do is to not accept the first offer and to carefully select your future partners. From personal experience, the best franchise owners include those who are looking to own their restaurant store after managing it after “x” amount of years. This results in a higher likelihood of them being fully immersed in the brand is much higher than if you were to partner with someone looking for a career change.


Providing the proper training and resources, as well as having centralized operations is a critical element that starts at the beginning of all restaurant openings and working with franchisees. This sets standards and provides direction for your partners to follow with confidence.Having all of these components in place is only the beginning. The most important ingredient is your mindset. Stay driven, stay focused on your goals and TAKE STRATEGIC ACTION.
Sam Mustafa is the the CEO of Charleston Hospitality Group and Toast! All Day Franchise. Named one of the nation’s 100 most influential CEOs by Nation’s Restaurant News and frequent speaker on Joe Pardavila’s Podcast on ForbesBooks Radio. He has also been featured on Medium, Authority Magazine, describing his version of the American Dream. Sam is one of the leading voices in the Restaurant Industry.




1) Main, Bill. “Look before You Leap.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, 23 Apr. 2015, https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/look-you-leap?utm_source=Look+before+you+leap&utm_medium=rb-feed&utm_campaign=RSS-Feeds.


2) Maze, Jonathan. “Why More Careful Selection Is Key to Restaurant Success.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, 15 Sept. 2021, https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/financing/why-more-careful-selection-key-restaurant-success?utm_source=Why+more+careful+selection+is+key+to+restaurant+success&utm_medium=rb-feed&utm_campaign=RSS-Feeds.


3) Romeo, Peter. “Brace Yourself for a Mass Exodus of Employees.” Restaurant Business, Restaurant Business, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/workforce/brace-yourself-mass-exodus-employees?utm_source=Brace+yourself+for+a+mass+exodus+of+employees&utm_medium=rb-feed&utm_campaign=RSS-Feeds.


4) Tristano, Darren. “Want to Grow Your Restaurant Franchise? Here’s How.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Jan. 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrentristano/2017/01/26/want-to-grow-your-restaurant-franchise-heres-how/?sh=1775dab15e20.