The Florida franchisee is BBQ Boyz LLC, owned and run by friends and neighbors Jack and Ilene Flechner, Fred Burgess and Joe and Barbara Sloboda in Broward County.
The first VooDoo restaurant will open in Miami within eight months. The territory encompasses most of Florida and will have locations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville.
"For us, this is absolutely huge," said VooDoo CEO Tony Avila. "We're establishing a large footprint in the nation's fourth-most-populous state. I think years from now, we'll look back at this agreement with BBQ Boyz as a monumental moment for VooDoo BBQ."
BBQ Boyz plans to open 13 restaurants in the next five years and the full complement of 26 within a decade. The deal is the largest in VooDoo's nine-year history. Recent expansion has boosted the company's total number of scheduled openings to 41.
"There are good barbecue places down in Florida," Flechner said. "VooDoo is different in that it's fast-casual rather than the kind of mom-and-pop shack or the much larger sit-down restaurants that are prevalent. I think VooDoo is really well situated to fill a niche in between."
But most important, he said, was the food. VooDoo specializes in competition-style barbecue and serves unique, chef-designed side dishes atypical for barbecue restaurants, such as corn pudding, Gris Gris greens and sweet potato soufflé.
VooDoo was founded by a group of entrepreneurs with roots in the Ruth's Chris organization. They opened the first VooDoo BBQ & Grill on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans on Mardi Gras day 2002. Over the next nine years, the company grew steadily, proving itself in the competitive culinary arena of south Louisiana and building a huge fan base.
"Now we're ready to take our New Orleans-style flavor and magic way beyond Louisiana," Avila said. "Florida has great food. We're excited and confident that Floridians will appreciate and love what VooDoo BBQ has to offer."