Support and Training
Ponko is home to eats meets west, where Japanese and western fare converge. Also referred to as "Japanese Soul Food" by owner, caterer and home chef, Maggie Antoine. “It’s straight from the heart — Authentically Japanese. Authentically Western.” This unique fast-casual concept aims not only to provide remarkable Japanese inspired comfort food but to provide an experience and atmosphere that makes guests feel instantly welcome.
Ponko is true to the food culture of its creators, founders and sisters. Maggie Antoine and Reiko Clark were raised on Crenshaw Boulevard in the heart of Los Angeles. They attended public schools and frequented local food dives like Tommy’s, Fat Burger, Golden Bird Fried Chicken and Holiday Bowl. When they came home, their extraordinary home-chef-of-a-mom had the best homemade Japanese and all-American classic meals waiting for them.
Maggie inherited an amazing palate and just had the “it,” factor in the kitchen, and eventually invented and perfected the signature PONKO Chicken recipe. She opened and operated a successful catering business when she was only 18. Reiko, a creative went on to a successful career in New York. She worked in the fashion industry as an art director, and eventually landed in branding and marketing where she has had an award-winning career. They both married really great guys from their neighborhoods, and between them, they have reared a band of 5 clever and beautiful multi-cultural millennial children.
Two decades after providing catering for Hollywood studios and corporate clients, Maggie joined her sister Reiko in Atlanta where they crafted a fresh fast-casual menu that revolved around their food heritage and eating culture. They opened their first store in Stone Mountain Georgia in 1998. They envisioned that they could sell Ponko Chicken to the masses and they did. After a 10 year successful run, they decided to take a long deserved break and close temporarily when the 2008 recession hit.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2017. Ponko Chicken joined forces with a business partner, Dr. Patrick Sallarulo, and re-opened it’s doors to a warm welcome and since has consistently surpassed their daily sales quota. Ponko has clearly achieved what we like to call the cravability factor. Many of their guests are eating 2-3 times a week. Their price points are competitive, and although they have targeted their brand for the “millennials”, they have a broad spectrum of visitors eating at their establishment. On any given day, you will see all shapes, sizes, colours and ages enjoying and sharing meals in their dining room. They are a unique product which sets them apart from other “Asian” cuisines and brands. There is not another chicken concept that can be found to compare to the Ponko experience, which might explain their collection of accolades which includes; “Best Selling Taste” at Taste of Atlanta - two years in a row, “Best Fried Chicken in Atlanta” at ATL CluckFest in 2018 and “Top Selling Vendor” at Super Bowl Live 2019.
Ponko is accessible too many guests but strikes a chord with the adventuresome. They are not only “foodies,” but people who are looking to be transported by immersive experiences. This naturally draws Ponko toward more urban settings with large numbers of daytime employees from surrounding businesses and evening residents. These are likely to be a somewhat younger group of customers who have lived in more than one place and value new experiences. Ideally, for Ponko, this translates to city center areas in every major city across the nation. Areas that have a high daytime business and residential population. But do note, with the financial success of their flagship store, which lies in a declared depressed area, has proven that they can also reach more suburbanites just as well. Their flagship store has helped determine the true potential that Ponko holds.
The diverse backgrounds and unique skill sets of the Ponko Chicken management team first came together in October of 2017 to launch the first location. The team has spent the last year building and managing Ponko Chicken and is considering expanding the restaurant with two additional company-owned locations in the Atlanta market. With the knowledge and operational experience gained from these ventures, Ponko Chicken’s next project is to expand the business via franchising.
The system itself is well positioned and poised for growth with a proven track record and a highly experienced operations and management team. The business model is reasonably simple to operate and requires limited, but highly trained staff. All of the food is sourced from direct suppliers and the vision and business objectives are derived from the Management Team’s vast experience and business acumen.
The concept fits very well into today’s franchise marketplace. It is a business model that allows for a reasonable and wide range of initial investment options, as each franchisee will be responsible for their own site selection and build-out, with help from the Franchisor. A franchisee can get into the business with all the required initial inventory and equipment - all for around $250,000 (although we will be keen on making sure they will be suitably capitalized). The business can be highly profitable and is a flexible and scalable business model, which would allow for a franchisee to add revenue and profitability in significant multiples as appropriate to operational capabilities and market size.
The franchise management company will be based out of Atlanta, which will be wholly owned by current Management Team, along with the existing company-owned unit (and the two expected to open soon). These corporate units throughout the Atlanta area will be used as the operating prototypes for the business model and will help focus growth into select Southeastern U.S. markets initially.
Through franchise development, Ponko Chicken will have the ability to operate locations in new markets without the cost and management responsibilities that would come with additional company-owned territories. Because of the attractive potential return on investment, franchise development holds enormous potential. By franchising the brand and establishing the ability to deliver services to clients on a national basis, Ponko Chicken will have the ability to be valued much higher than a chain of company-owned units.
The Ponko Chicken operating model has been structured with well-defined processes and systems in place, which allows for ease of replication and will make for a straightforward training program with new franchise partners.
The Ponko Chicken facility will be a fixed retail location in a mid- to high-rent area to provide an inclusive feel and plenty of foot traffic. The operating model is relatively simple from an operational standpoint, but delivers an extremely diverse and quality experience to the customer with great results to the bottom line. The Ponko Chicken model offers consumers the opportunity to purchase signature chicken tender plates, a diverse selection of sandwiches, salads and more, all at competitive prices.
Locations will range in size up to 2,500 square feet and will be located in areas with annual rent per square foot of $20 to $40, on average. The interior of each location will be bright, modern, and inviting with appropriate branding, which may be localized by the franchisees.
Employees and management in the units should be courteous, professional and should have an expert understanding on the menu as to offer an educational dining experience. They will have branded uniforms and will enrich the high-energy environment that sets Ponko Chicken apart from other restaurant settings.
Although the product line may vary slightly by location, most of the products carried by each Ponko Chicken location will be purchased through the Franchisor or an affiliate/third-party company. The Franchisor will have final approval of anything sold in the business.
A member of Ponko Chicken field support staff will visit each franchisee according to the following schedule:
It is estimated that Ponko Chicken will need to hire one field supervisor for every 20-25 franchises in the field. This is a relatively “de-leveraged” support model that should allow for the high quality of support and guidance provided to franchisees. The Franchisor will incorporate a formalized mechanism for ensuring quality control among franchisees that will be implemented by these field supervisors. Designated staff members will perform supervision of field support duties.
In addition to field support, members of the Franchisor organization will provide the services listed below. The Franchisor must assign a specific person to cover each of these support areas (one person can be assigned to more than one task). The names of support staff members who are officers, directors, or have significant management responsibility in conjunction with franchisees will be disclosed in the Ponko Chicken Disclosure Document. The Franchisor has the responsibility to assign a person/people to each task during the development of the franchise program.
The Franchisor will provide ongoing training and support in many areas critical to the success of the franchisee's business, including unit operations and maintenance, customer-service techniques, product ordering, suggested pricing guidelines and administrative procedures.
Ponko Chicken will coordinate development of advertising materials and strategies for the benefit of all members of the franchise network. It will also supply franchisees with consumer marketing plans and materials for use at the local or regional level, and retains the right to approve all local advertising materials that the franchisee chooses to develop. Eventually, all marketing materials and collateral may be uploaded on to an intranet that would provide the franchisees the ability to download documents whenever needed.
The Franchisor or its affiliate will negotiate quantity discounts on behalf of all of its members, passing some or all of these savings on to the franchisees. It will also facilitate the ordering process through its internal purchasing system. This will include elements such as consumables, food, retail items, marketing materials, and other needed items for operating a Ponko Chicken location.
Reporting directly to administration, this department is responsible for the financial and legal oversight of franchisees. Ponko Chicken will be providing support and guidance to franchisees on how to manage their books, but they will ultimately be instructed to hire their own CPA for their individual business.
Ongoing Research and Development
Ponko Chicken management and leadership will continue to research methods and techniques for franchise operations (including purchasing and promotional schemes) that enhance unit-level profitability. There will be continued research and development on how to better operate the locations and how to more profitably manage a Ponko Chicken franchise.
Join an emerging concept serving the increased need for a better culturally innovated restaurant. Join the growing number of owners who have taken control of their futures. Join Ponko Chicken.
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