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Long lines a good sign as Bahama Buck’s plots area expansion

Posted 2:37pm on Monday, Aug. 04, 2014

Some days, there are lines out the door of Bahama Buck’s, a snow cone and smoothie franchise that opened July 15 on the inner court of Montgomery Plaza on Fort Worth’s West Seventh Street.

The store is the 40th for the Lubbock-based chain, which says 12 to 16 more will be shaving and scooping ice by the end of the year. Investors have bought the rights for 117.

Keller-based SP Ventures LLC owns the Montgomery Plaza location and another it opened last year at 5636 N. Tarrant Parkway near Fort Worth’s border with Keller. They are owned by Smit Shah and his wife, Prachee Patel. They plan to open more, with solid locations set for Colleyville in September, and then next year in Saginaw, Southlake, Mansfield and Irving’s Los Colinas, Shah told us. Two more locations are under consideration.

According to the Bahama Buck’s website, franchised stores average $418,538 in gross sales, with net profits averaging 36.79 percent, which works out to $153,980 before royalty and advertising fees. Smit Shah declined to release figures for his Keller-area store’s first 11 months.

Bahama Buck’s array of snow cones, smoothies and frozen coffee-flavored drinks are proving popular in the summer heat. But what about the winter? Shah says the concept also offers a solid selection of espresso coffee drinks and hot chocolate.

Unfortunately, lease restrictions prevent the Montgomery Plaza location — just across from Starbucks — from offering cappuccinos, cafe lattes and Mahalo Mocha (espresso, steamed milk and white chocolate sauce). But then Starbucks can’t compete with snow cones, notes Shah, whose family operates Dunkin Donut shops on the East Coast.

The Bahama Buck’s chain had very humble beginnings — a snow cone stand handbuilt by a Texas Tech undergrad named Blake Buchanan and his insurance salesman father in their back yard, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Eaton.

It was to be a self-created summer job in 1990 but became Buchanan’s career, and a career changer for his father, who today is vice president. Buchanan’s mother and wife also are company officers. The company owns three Lubbock locations and one in Waco, which are shuttered on Sundays for religious reasons. But unlike Chick-fil-A, which has all franchisees closed that day, Buchanan allows his investors to decide individually whether to keep the sabbath Blue Bubblegum Sno-free.

Shah is no slouch when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit himself. After studying computer engineering at the University of Houston and working at Motorola in Illinois, he started Cellphone Trendz, which puts licensed NFL and Major League Baseball logos, among others, on cellphone cases, which are sold on Amazon, eBay and at mall kiosks. He discovered Bahama Buck’s while visiting relatives in Lubbock and was sold on the combination of snow cones, smoothies and coffee.

And while banks are reluctant to lend to restaurants, Shah didn’t borrow capital. He managed to get a local lender to invest as an equity partner in the venture. He declined to name the bank.

Brick House opens

in north Fort Worth

Brick House Tavern + Tap has opened its first Fort Worth location.

The 8,600-square-foot restaurant at 6300 North Freeway, off Interstate 35W and Fossil Creek, employs about 110 workers and can seat up to 291 diners. The restaurant features a seasonal, chef-inspired menu, craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails.

This is the chain’s eighth Texas location and second in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“We offer patrons an experience that goes beyond the one they find at your typical sports bars and grills,” said Daniel Rojas, the location’s general manager.

Patrons can watch 30 flat-screen televisions from leather recliners, a seat at the bar or a table.

Brick House Tavern + Tap is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Brick House Tavern is part of the Ignite Restaurant Group.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST Steve Kaskovich, 817-390-7773 Twitter: @stevekasko Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 Twitter: @bshlachter

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