How Focus Brands Is Growing Nontraditionally

The company is ramping up growth for its seven brands in locations like airports, convenience stores, colleges, amusement parks and more.

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Cinnabon is set to pop up in travel plazas, convenience stores and "college-edge" markets. The brand also recently opened at Charleston Int'l. Airport and is being piloted in ghost kitchens. Courtesy of Cinnabon.

Auntie Anne’s is coming to Six Flags Over Texas. Dozens of Schlotzsky’s locations are set to open in travel plazas, and Cinnabon is being served out of ghost kitchens.

Over the past year, Focus Brands, the parent company to these brands and four more—Carvel, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli and Moe’s Southwest Grill—has accelerated its nontraditional unit expansion by opening in more venues like airports, convenience stores, colleges and other high-trafficked venues, and it has no plans of slowing down.

The benefit of these locations, says the company, is that they offer increased accessibility and convenience for customers, build brand awareness and help turn profits for the brands’ franchisees.

The Atlanta-based Focus Brands currently has 954 nontraditional locations open across the U.S., and an additional 313 are in the pipeline.

“Knowing that there’s high demand for our brands, we want to expand in the right nontraditional venues to ensure we’re building accessibility and giving our guests more opportunities to enjoy their favorite food and beverage. We’re looking forward to adding new units to the development pipeline and to opening additional locations in the coming months,” says Brian Krause, chief development officer of Focus Brands, in a press release.

Here’s a look at some of Focus Brands’ recent nontraditional openings and what to expect next:

Convenience stores and travel plazas  

Pilot Travel Centers, a convenience store franchisee, plans to bring 10 new Cinnabon locations to travel plazas and convenience stores across the country. Meanwhile, Mountain Express signed a deal to bring 50 Schlotzsky’s and five Moe’s Southwest Grill locations to travel plazas in the Southeast region.


This year, Charleston Int’l. Airport got its first Cinnabon location, owned by the first African American female franchisee, Shawnalea Garvin, in the airport. As for Jamba, HMSHost signed an agreement to open a new location at Salt Lake City Int’l. Airport, which is set to open this winter, and franchisee Ajay Maini is opening a Jamba location at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., in early 2022.

Amusement parks

In the coming months, two Auntie Anne’s locations are set to open at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, marking the first such locations within a Six Flags park.

Colleges and universities

In addition to bringing its brands to college campuses and universities, Focus Brands has been targeting “college edge” markets for its four specialty brands—Jamba, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s and Carvel—to bring nontraditional locations to high-traffic, downtown college towns. A Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s co-brand location opened near the University of Cincinnati in October, and a Jamba and Auntie Anne’s co-brand location near Auburn University is set to open next year.

Robotic kiosks

The second Jamba robotic kiosk pilot location recently opened in Stonewood Center in Downey, Calif. The company says these kiosks allow the brand to enter venues like big-box retailers, travel centers, hospitals and college campuses where a full Jamba store might not be viable.

Ghost kitchens

Cinnabon is piloting growth via ghost kitchens with nine newly opened locations with Ghost Kitchen Brands in Canada and the U.S.


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