Sherif Mityas was once the CEO of Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery, the biggest competitor to Blockbuster Video. To avoid becoming obsolete like the products of his former company, Mityas is pushing innovation in his new role as president of Dallas-based Brix Holdings’ brands, which includes Red Mango, Orange Leaf, Smoothie Factory, Souper Salad and RedBrick Pizza.
After spending four years at TGI Fridays with C-suite titles, Mityas joined Jamco Interests, the majority stakeholder of Brix Holdings, in November 2021 as operating partner. And in his first 30 days as Brix president, Mityas pitched the idea to expand some of the brands via non-traditional platforms, such as ghost or host kitchens.
For Smoothie Factory, “extending into non-traditional ghost kitchens is going to be a very important piece of our strategy this year and going forward, and even automation is going to be a big deal,” Mityas said. “It’s an opportunity as a collection of brands to kind of reimagine who we are and how we offer what we offer moving forward.”
Though no partnerships have officially been announced, Mityas said Brix is in “detailed discussions” with three of the larger players in the ghost kitchen network.
“We feel that this is a multi-player strategy for us to enter new geographies with our brands,” said Mityas, who expects to make announcements in the later part of the first quarter.
Mityas nodded to his background with TGI Fridays, which has partnered with Reef Technology to launch more than 300 ghost kitchens in October 2021, as a key reason why he was able to “gear up these conversations and start moving on the development path forward,” he said.
“If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that this industry really bands together and tries to help each other,” Mityas added. “Just knowing these folks and having great networks even on the ghost kitchen side with a number of guys at Kitchen United, Reef, Ghost Kitchen Brands, are really partners we feel going forward could be really helpful and grow our brands and be invaluable.”
The plan is to test out potential markets through ghost kitchen expansion, both to build brand awareness, bring Brix products to more customers and to attract future franchisees, who would ideally build physical locations in markets that gain traction.
Mityas will initially focus on expanding 21-unit Smoothie Factory and frozen yogurt brands Red Mango, which has 65 locations, and Orange Leaf, which has 78, through these platforms. Six-unit RedBrick’s requirement for pizza ovens poses a challenge, while Souper Salad’s buffet concept will need reimagining to work as a delivery-only offering.
Additionally, Mityas is looking at ways to expand Brix’s concepts in other non-traditional locations such as office buildings, college campuses, airports and more.
“Can you envision maybe a drink machine that will make your smoothie, almost at the push of a button?” he said. “Having that machine maybe at your local gym or health club or bar, so right after you work out, you hit the Smoothie Factory automated machine.”
“This is not going to be your father’s Brix brands, let me put it this way,” Mityas added. “It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward for new franchisees to join us on this journey.”