Nicholas Perkins Makes History as First African American to Own a National Burger Franchise | August 2021
Nicholas Perkins, a Howard University alum, became the first African American to own a national burger franchise in an $18 million deal with Fuddruckers. Perkins was previously one of the largest Fuddruckers franchisees with 13 restaurants under his belt. Now, he owns the entire restaurant chain. More than 150 entities were in the running for the sale, but ultimately the Houston-based restaurant chain went to Perkins.
Luby’s, Inc., the previous owner, is a food service company known for Luby’s Cafeteria and Fuddruckers. In 2020, the company announced it would liquidate after years of struggle, selling off its brands and distributing proceeds to investors, and dissolve the company in 2022.
From Franchisee to Franchiser
40-year-old Perkins is originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration and management from Fayetteville State University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Howard University.
“As a Fuddruckers franchisee, I have a vested interest in ensuring that all Fuddruckers franchisees have the resources, infrastructure, and operational and marketing support they need to maximize their return on investment,” Perkins said.
He was 24-years-old when he founded the Perkins Management Company, a company that specializes in contract food services; custodial, facilities, and grounds maintenance; and retail fast food industry dining services. His company employs more than 500 individuals in 13 states and services clients including the University of the District of Columbia, the courthouses in Howard County, Maryland, and The United States Department of Defense, among others. Perkins Management Company works with brands such as Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A on college campuses and is a franchisee of Church’s Chicken. Perkins Management Company will operate separately from Fuddruckers.
The multi-million-dollar enterprise is one of the entrepreneur’s many achievements. Perkins says he hopes to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and plans to leverage his assets to improve the lives of others and lift others up.
The Future for Fuddruckers
Fuddruckers first opened in San Antonio in 1979 by Philip J. Romano, the creator of Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It was later sold to Magic Brands LLC and later Luby’s Inc. Interestingly, one of Perkin’s franchisees will be Luby’s former CEO, Chris Pappas, who is now a franchise owner of one unit in Houston, Texas.
The chain was one of the first fast-casual restaurant brands to sell a premium burger. Perkins wants to re-establish Fuddruckers as a leader in gourmet burgers. Perkins has always loved Fuddrucker’s freshly baked buns, house-made pico de gallo, and fresh, never-frozen beef.
Perkins says he plans to better align the company’s corporate office, franchisees, and the supply chain. He will focus on improving the company’s technology, including its loyalty program, and menu, including the introduction of more plant-based menu items.
In the Classroom
This article can be used to discuss franchises (Chapter 5: Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Franchising). This article could also be used to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion (Chapter 10: Managing Human Resources).
- Why do you think Fuddrucker’s and its parent company have struggled in recent years?
- Do you think improving Fuddrucker’s technology and menu will help increase sales?
- Describe the ways in which Perkins has a vested interest in Fuddrucker’s success?
This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell and Linda Ferrell.
Abu Mubarik, "Nicholas Perkins Becomes First African American to Own National Burger Franchise in $18m Deal," Face2Face Africa, July 17, 2021, https://face2faceafrica.com/article/nicholas-perkins-becomes-first-african-american-to-own-national-burger-franchise-in-18m-deal
Andrea Blackstone, "H-U, You Know! Howard University Alum Nicholas Perkins, Acquires $18m Fuddruckers Franchise," Black Enterprise, June 21, 2021, https://www.blackenterprise.com/h-u-you-know-howard-university-alum-nicholas-perkins-acquires-18m-fuddruckers-franchise/
Lisa Jennings, "Nicholas Perkins Has a Plan to Re-Establish Fuddruckers as Gourmet Burger Leader," Nation's Restaurant News, July 21, 2021, https://www.nrn.com/fast-casual/nicholas-perkins-has-plan-re-establish-fuddruckers-gourmet-burger-leader
"Luby’s Liquidation: Shareholders Ok Plan to Dissolve Business," Austin American-Statesman, November 18, 2020, https://www.statesman.com/story/business/2020/11/18/lubyrsquos-liquidation-shareholders-ok-plan-to-dissolve-business/43165437/