Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. Today we’re trying to figure out What the Fudds is going on at Houston’s remaining Fuddruckers. Things began first publically to unravel for Fuddruckers towards the end of 2017 when parent company Luby’s Inc posted one of many continuous losses in sales. To help abate this, Luby’s Inc. would begin closing locations nationwide. Throughout 2017 and 2018, a number of low-performing Luby’s and Fuddruckers locations would close, including some in Houston. However, this action would not end up being enough, and in 2019 Luby’s began to “refranchise” nearly all of the company-owned Fuddruckers locations. In late 2020 Luby’s Inc. agreed to sell or liquidate its remaining holdings, including the Fuddruckers brand. Just before the end of the year, Food Service Industry entrepreneur Nicholas Perkins created a company named “Black Titan Franchise Systems” to acquire 13 of the 24 remaining corporately owned Fuddruckers locations. With these 13 locations, he would immediately become the largest Fuddruckers franchisee. However, the company itself was still in limbo as no one had stepped in to purchase Fuddruckers itself from Lubys Inc. Only a few months into the new year, Black Titan would again step up, this time to purchase the corporate identity and some of the remaining structure of Fuddruckers from Luby’s Inc. for $18.5 Million. The accomplishment was no easy feat, but Perkins immediately set his eyes on expanding the chain by adding ten new locations at Brookfield Property Malls and expanding a ghost kitchen partnership with Kitchen United Mix.
While the Brookfield Mall locations have yet to materialize, the Kitchen United Mix ghost kitchens did end up rolling out at three Texas locations. Immediately after the sale, things seemed up a Fuddruckers for the first time in years. However, as the pandemic wore on and inflation grew, it seems Fudds began running into serious issues. I first became aware of these issues by visiting a location for a planned updated post. The restaurant was out of nearly every soda, some toppings, and condiments, including their famous jalapeno cheese, and it took quite a bit of time to get orders out despite not being very busy. The employees all seemed to be trying their best, but it was obvious they were short-staffed, and the product outages were concerning. After visiting this store, I checked reviews for other Houston locations and found the situations to be pretty similar. Some investigation showed these same issues occurring at corporate-owned locations all across the country. At least two Houston locations have apparently stopped accepting credit cards. Further concern comes from a lawsuit filed by Produce Supplier Hardies Fruit and Vegetable for non-payment; while the suit has been dismissed, it still brings up questions. Reviews from franchise locations like the Chris Pappas-owned Town and Country Fuddruckers indicate that the issues are more related to Black Titan’s cash flow than overall chain performance. While there’s no absolute assurance of what’s to come, Fudds likely won’t be around much longer if things don’t change.
I hate to say it, but these issues are not new to people around this brand. We all had high hopes for Perkins, he seemed like a genuine guy. Although it’s just a matter of time until it crumbles. He just doesn’t know how to run a business.
I know vendors, employees (current and former), associates, etc. One of the biggest problems is Perkins doesn’t pay his bills. Whether it’s from being short on cash or being a crook I’m not certain. His instagram says he’s jet-setting enough to have money. Non payment includes vendors and also hourly contractors who are 1099. Hourly 1099 are technically hourly “employees” according to labor laws. It is illegal to not pay them.
He has surrounded himself with “yes” people and fires anyone who rocks the boat. Pappas is mentioned in this column, that location is TOTALLY different than the Black Titan locations. It’s on point that it’s a black titan problem, 100% accurate.
Definitely upsetting. I’ve yet to find a burger that is as big and just as good as Fudds. I can’t live without that cheese either.
Fuqua and NASA Rd Fudds were my go-tos. There’s one in Baybrook Square but it doesn’t taste the same if I’m being honest.