Hospitality & Tourism  February 2, 2024

Farmer Boys eyes region for first foray into Colorado

California-based fast-casual restaurant chain Farmer Boys is planning to expand into Colorado, and cities in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado are expected to be among the company’s first targets. 

Colorado “is a growing market with a healthy economy, a diversified economy, all of the things that we think are necessary for our success,” Farmer Boys brand and franchise development vice president John Lucas told BizWest. 

Farmer Boys, which was founded in Perris, California, in 1981 by five brothers from the Havadjias family who immigrated to the United States from Cypress, is eying “Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder initially” for its Colorado expansion, Lucas said, “with some thought down the road toward expanding into some of the tertiary markets in Colorado as well.”

The chain, known for its expansive menu that includes breakfast, salads and burgers made with locally sourced ingredients, has 102 existing restaurants, about 70% of which are franchise locations, in California, Nevada and Arizona. In addition to Colorado, Farmer Boys is also planning to establish a footprint in Utah.

Successful recent moves into the greater Las Vegas and Phoenix markets “really demonstrate to us that the brand has some runway in front of it,” Lucas said. “… Colorado is a dynamic market and one where the brand and its ethos and offerings would fit in well.” 

The Colorado expansion plan is occurring on an “approximately two-year timeline,” Lucas said. “We’re working with some brokers right now to identify some sites.”

It’s likely that an existing franchise operator in California will establish the brand’s first Centennial State outposts with local Colorado franchisees following up with additional locations, he said. 

Farmer Boys restaurants, which Lucas described as “kind of a mashup between a Denny’s and Culver’s,” are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and feature drive-through service.

The stores are typically about 2,700 to 3,100 square feet, Lucas said, “a little bit bigger that your average fast-food restaurant, but not by much.”

Access to Colorado’s network of high-quality agribusinesses is part of its attraction for Farmer Boys.

“We work directly with our vendors, and those close supplier relationships allow us to offer high-quality produce and meat” while supporting local farmers and ranchers, Lucas said. “It also allows us a level of control over our product and our supply chain that you don’t necessarily get” when you source from large restaurant suppliers. “It’s been a time-tested formula for us. As we move across the country, we’re going to be looking for other local partners.”

While the labor market in Colorado has caused significant heartburn for some restaurant operators, Lucas said Farmer Boys, which typically employs about 30 workers per restaurant, is well positioned to overcome workforce challenges. 

“The benefit of having success in California is that you’ve already had success in the toughest labor market in the country with the most regulation, the highest minimum wages. Having success (in California) hopefully paves the way for success in markets that are more business friendly.”

California-based fast-casual restaurant chain Farmer Boys is planning to expand into Colorado, and cities in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado are expected to be among the company’s first targets. 

Colorado “is a growing market with a healthy economy, a diversified economy, all of the things that we think are necessary for our success,” Farmer Boys brand and franchise development vice president John Lucas told BizWest. 

Farmer Boys, which was founded in Perris, California, in 1981 by five brothers from the Havadjias family who immigrated to the United States from Cypress, is eying “Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder…

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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