TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Sam Fox is a Tucson native who's restaurant brand has exploded. His "Fox Restaurant Concepts" headquarters are in Phoenix but the Sabino High graduate now plans to open two more restaurants in the Old Pueblo.
"There's just that great sense of pride," said Fox describing his emotions after announcing this week he's bringing two more of his restaurants back to his hometown. He now oversees 61 restaurants nationwide with several more opening soon.
Not bad for a guy who started working at his family restaurant "The Hungry Fox."
"Got my start in Tucson. The people of Tucson have been supportive of all of our businesses going back forever," Fox remembered. "My dad had restaurants in Tucson. So, obviously when I get to do something new in Tucson it's really exciting."
Fox already manages Zinburger, Wildflower, Blanco, and Culinary Dropout in Tucson. Now, he's adding chicken and pizza joint Doughbird and the very popular Flower Child to the Tucson market.
"It's probably our number one request we get here in Phoenix is when are you bringing Flower Child to Tucson," Fox said.
Fox describes Flower Child as quick and healthy food. He says it's his favorite and he eats there three times a week. You can afford to do that if you're the founder and CEO.
He no longer actually owns the restaurants. Fox sold them to Cheesecake Factory for over $300 million in 2019. But he still manages them and develops the concepts for more restaurants.
"Our partners at Cheesecake have done exactly what they said they were going to do," Fox said. "They've empowered us to grow, run the business as we have been running the business for years, and continue to build our teams and grow great restaurants."
Cheesecake Factory is the big winner. Documents filed by that parent company show Fox Restaurant Concepts posted sales of $68 million during the third quarter of this year. That's up 89% from the same quarter in 2020.
"I think our sales have been great. It's obviously been reported. In the middle of tough times people want to know that they're getting value, they're getting quality and they're going to a name and a brand they can trust," said Fox.
Fox says they're experiencing the same supply chain and staffing issues as most businesses. The challenge is trying to stay one step ahead. He is aware of the upcoming minimum wage hike to $15 an hour in Tucson, but that didn't deter him from making plans to build the two new restaurants in the Campbell Plaza.
"We're excited to be in Tucson. We're excited to support the people that work for us," Fox said. "We want people to be able to make a living wage and so we're OK with that."
Fox says he's finalizing building permits now and expects the new restaurants to open in 14 to 16 months.
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