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Iconic Papaya King Back in Franchise Business Industry

The New York City icon Papaya King hot dog restaurant is prepping for international expansion. Known for its combination of hot dogs and tropical drinks, this brand recently signed a deal with the QSR Franchise Development Group that could lead to 20 new locations from New York down to Florida, according to company owner Wayne Rosenbaum. This is the second agreement the company has entered into over the last few years to offer franchise opportunities. In 2016, a similar partnership with Fransmart was inked, but it fell through after six months.

Rosenbaum said that venues such as airports, food halls and universities where "express" formats of his restaurant would thrive are being explored. The original location, on NYC's Upper East Side at Third Avenue and 86th Street, is 600 square feet, but express franchise business locations could be as small as 200 square feet.

Steven Garner, the founder of QSR, added that the smaller footprint would reduce operating costs and boost profits, but regular-sized locations will still be available. The brand is first focusing on the Northeast, with other markets such as Los Angeles and Florida also in play.

In preparation for the expansion, Rosenbaum is freshening up the brand's juice menu with the addition of green juices, something customers have been asking for. The original store is soon going to have a rolling juice bar as well, so the morning crowd can grab pre-packaged drinks when they are on the go.

According to Gardner, the brand is going to be reintroduced to the market with a retro-style campaign, using social media and other strategies to appeal to a younger generation with no knowledge of its long history. It's a move, Gardner says, that is required since the brand has been neglected for years.

QSR is working with Fresh & Co, who have opened more than 12 units across Manhattan over the last six months. Gardner believes that the 15 to 20-location goal for the hot dog brand is reasonable, and while it may sound ambitious, it is more attainable than the 1,000 locations across North America envisioned by Fransmart in the previous franchise deal.

Papaya King has been in business since the 1930s and started out as NYC's first juice bar under the name "Hawaiian Tropical Drinks." Its hot dogs were added later, and the brand was so popular at one point that legendary chef Julia Child declared it had the best hot dogs in the city. Rosenbaum bought the company in 2010 and has been working to revive it ever since.

This historic brand currently has franchise opportunities available. The total initial investment varies by format and ranges from $120,000 to $425,000.

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