Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Franchise Times, a sibling publication to Food On Demand. 

Focus Brands is rebranding as GoTo Foods, CEO Jim Holthouser announced Tuesday at the Focus Brands No Limits Conference in Las Vegas to a crowd of the company’s franchisees.

“We want to embrace and reflect these changes in our decision to become GoTo Foods,” Holthouser said following vigorous applause and cheers from operators. “This name is a better, more fitting, more comprehensive name for what it is we do: serving delicious craveable food, providing the places and experiences and the tastes people love, and then connecting people with their go-to foods in their everyday lives.”

Holthouser kicked off the morning playing a piano rendition (he’s apparently been playing the instrument since he was 6 years old) of “Rhapsody in Blue,” comparing the journey of composer George Gershwin to that of Focus Brands.

“Gershwin was always restless, always innovating, always pushing boundaries and breaking down barriers,” he said. “Interestingly enough, it’s our story as well.”

GoTo Foods is the parent company of Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, McAlister’s Deli, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s. In total, the company operates more than 6,700 units worldwide.

Holthouser took over as CEO in 2020, when he announced his goal to unify the company’s seven franchises.

The rebrand will serve as a means to scale existing brands and acquire new ones, continuing Holthouser’s goal from the start of his tenure.

“This new name will also help us better recruit top talent as we propel our brands forward,” Holthouser said.

GoTo Foods CEO Jim Holthouser

The transition also switches GoTo from a holding company to a platform company, he said, which mirrors Marriott’s umbrella of hotel flags. “What makes Marriott a platform business is … they leverage the collective scale to give their brands more than any of them can afford on their own, all while protecting brand distinctiveness so we can bring that model to the restaurant business and Focus Brands,” Holthouser said.

GoTo was previously driving sales by increasing prices, which in turn increased average unit volumes, but “That’s not exactly a sustainable model,” Holthouser said.

The goal is not to operate seven brands, plus retail companies, individually, “but one systemwide solution serving seven unique brands,” he said.

“There is so much value we can unlock for you,” Holthouser told franchisees.

The platform company has increased paid media spending by 150 percent while investing $60 million in GoTo’s digital presence and another $16 million in supply chain improvements. GoTo gained 4.6 million new loyalty members across the system last year.

GoTo Foods has emphasized its intentions to open more co-branded stores, such as Jamba and Auntie Anne’s joint locations with drive-thru lanes, branching out from the brands’ typical mall and airport locations.

The company reported over 1,150 franchise agreements signed in 2023 and nearly 400 new store openings.