By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Quaker Steak and Lube began a search for a corporate office for its franchise operations in September because of rapid growth.
It ended the search for the same reason.
“2012 was, by far, the best year we’ve ever had,” said company President and Chief Executive Officer John Longstreet. “We’ve been so busy taking care of our business we don’t have time for the search.”
For the foreseeable future the restaurant franchiser will remain in cramped quarters at the original Lube location in downtown Sharon.
Another reason for the search halt was that officials believe the rapid employee growth at the corporate office – there are about 40 workers now – is likely to slow significantly. Longstreet said he doesn’t believe “very many” people will need to be hired this year to help provide support to existing franchises and plan for growth.
The company announced in September it was hiring a firm to conduct an economic analysis of the Sharon, Cleveland and Dallas-Fort Worth areas and recommend the best location for the corporate office.
Longstreet said the corporate board gave its blessing to his recommendation to end the search so the company could focus on its immediate plans.
The company opened 10 motorsports-themed, casual dining restaurants last year and one more in January, giving it a total of 58. Four more are under construction and another 10 likely will be opened in 2013, Longstreet said.
Systemwide sales revenue went up 14 percent last year, and franchise revenue and royalties jumped 58 percent, he said.
“People are still eating out, thankfully,” Longstreet said.
Not only that, chicken wings are the fastest-growing menu item in restaurants nationwide – a boon to the Lube, which is known for its wings.
The popularity of boneless wings, something the Lube added a few years ago, also is booming, he said.
The company was founded in Sharon in 1974.