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Restaurants & Bars

Tiffany Derry Aims to Help Others Create Generational Wealth With Her New Franchising Model

The celebrity chef is franchising her Roots Chicken Shak restaurants in Texas, then plans to expand the network into other states.
| |Gallery courtesy of T2D Concepts
Tiffany Derry
Elizabeth Lavin

The co-founders behind Dallas-based hospitality brand T2D Concepts, celebrity chef Tiffany Derry and business partner Tom Foley, are franchising Roots Chicken Shak, known for Derry’s famous duck-fat fried chicken.

The initiative, which has been in the works for a couple years, is not about giving large franchisees another portfolio restaurant, Derry says. It’s about serving emerging and aspiring business owners in marginalized communities. After all, the chef herself was just that when she worked at IHOP to help fund her way through culinary school.  

“I’m just looking for passionate people,” Derry says. “This is a very different model than what people are used to seeing. But what we’ve seen is that the model is kind of broken and it leaves a lot of people behind, and they are not able to be a part of that system. So, hopefully, what we’re building and trying to create will open opportunities for those who otherwise would not be able to.” 

T2D Concepts owns and operates two Roots Chicken Shaks in Plano’s Legacy Hall and within an Austin H-E-B. Its third location, and first standalone property and drive-thru, is slated to open in Desoto’s Hampton Road development.

Derry once told her business partner that three locations is all she felt she could operate. “What? No. You have to think bigger,” Foley told her. So, the duo are doing just that.

Derry says the restaurants, which feature a menu of just nine items, can operate in spaces as small as 1,000 square feet to as large as 2,500 square feet. “We’re no longer just thinking about food halls, but smaller footprints have shown to be more successful for us,” Derry says.

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Tiffany Derry Aims to Help Others Create Generational Wealth With Her New Franchising Model

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The brand’s real estate approach is atypical to a scaling franchise. Just as it did with its soon-to-be-open Desoto location, Derry and Foley are looking for real estate footprints in underserved areas that will create ownership opportunities and incentives for women and people of color. Its pipeline, Derry says, is garnering a lot of interest right now.

Across all of Derry’s restaurants, T2D Concepts employs more than 100 people. “We just continue to grow, and with our new Italian concept Radici opening, we will probably add another 40 employees,” she says.

For Roots Chicken Shak, Derry is looking for franchisees who have previous experience in restaurant operations, successful business leaders—not just confined to the hospitality industry—or aspiring restaurateurs.

For those new to the industry, Derry has observed that being awarded a franchise location is traditionally about having the highest credit score, access to funding, or just knowing the right people. However, she says access to capital does not necessarily mean a franchisee will be a successful business owner; it just means they have money.  

Starting a Roots Chicken Shak will cost the franchisee between $400,000 and $700,000., Derry says.

The payoff will be there, she adds. “The money will come,” Derry says. “In this industry, we have a lot of people working a lot of hours, they have committed their lives to the culinary business, and they walk away with no retirement plans, they walk away with no 401K, they walk away with no benefits. So, Tom and I thought about how we could make a splash. And one way of making a splash is to create the opportunities for people to be able to come in and be owners. What that means is that now they can create their own generational wealth, and that is where the game changes.” 

Derry says that Roots Chicken Shak was always meant to be a franchise with multiple locations. She has had this goal since her days at IHOP. The chef intends to start by identifying Texas-based franchisees so she and Foley can help launch the locations with a hands-on approach. Once they outgrow Texas, Derry says they will focus on opening locations in other states.

As for franchising her other concepts, like Roots Southern Table and Radici, Derry says ‘never say never.’   

“New things are always a little scary, but it’s also exciting,” she says. “If it doesn’t make you a little nervous, is it a big enough risk?” 

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Celie Price

Celie Price

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