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GSR Brands Beats Challenges of Early 2020 With Success and Looks Ahead to More Expansion

Company emerges stronger than ever from Q1 and Q2 of 2020, poised to expand throughout the year

Tom & Chee Location in Anderson, Ohio

While the phrase “uncertain times” is now well-worn in reference to the COVID-19 outbreak and its economic effects, one thing that has proven certain is GSR Brands’ ability to not just survive but thrive.

“We have met and surpassed last year’s numbers in the Cincinnati market,” says GSR Brands president and CEO Roger David. “We had a good first quarter that was above our 2019 numbers, despite the dramatic impact of COVID-19, as the State of Ohio issued shutdowns on March 15,” David says.

“Prior to the shutdown, our sales were up 9.7 percent above 2019. From March 15 through the month of April, we went from 9+ percent to -0.5 percent. This was the major impact of COVID-19. But, then, from March 3, 2020, through June 21, 2020, we have bounced back and are now back up, surpassing last year’s sales by 6.6 percent.”

David attributes the success to paying close attention to consumer attitudes and behaviors along the way and modifying marketing and operations to match. The overall goal, which GSR Brands achieved, was to build consumer trust around safety and protection in both of the GSR Brands: Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee.

During the shelter-in-place period, Gold Star Chili drove off-premise dining through drive-through and carry-out sales as well as third-party and online ordering.

New Developments

Expansion of GSR Brands restaurants continues in earnest.

Q2 saw Gold Star Chili’s successful remodel of its Springdale, Ohio, location to the brand’s new G5 prototype. Five more remodels are slated for Q3, toward a goal of 13 total G5-revamped locations in 2020.

Tom & Chee will open a Pittsburgh location and ink an area development agreement with an Oklahoma City franchisee in Q3.

Across Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee, GSR Brands looks to add five new franchisees by close of 2020.

Increasing Marketing Reach

As mentioned above, Q1 and Q2 witnessed GSR Brands’ deft navigation of the COVID-19 climate to achieve stellar sales, owing in no small part to adjustments in effectively marketing its drive-through and curbside offerings.

In Q2, GSR Brands struck a partnership with 919 Marketing to lead franchise development and brand awareness initiatives for both of GSR’s restaurant brands in the U.S. and expansion — reaching qualified single- and multi-unit franchisees across the country. 919 Marketing also will expand brand awareness to attract consumers to both restaurant concepts.

In Q3, GSR brands will onboard a new creative agency as well.

For more information about Gold Star Chili franchising, visit

For more information about Tom & Chee franchising, visit

About Tom & Chee

Tom & Chee has risen from humble origins to one of the rising stars in the $23 billion sandwich industry. In 2009, the first Tom & Chee location literally popped up in a tent near the ice-skating rink in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, during the winter holidays. Since then, Tom & Chee has become a nationally-recognized brand after appearing on Shark Tank and growing to more than 12 locations in seven states. To learn more about Tom & Chee, visit For more information about Tom & Chee franchising, visit

About Gold Star Chili

Gold Star Chili, founded over 50 years ago, has developed an enormous following in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area, serving comfort food with family-style hospitality. The brand stands poised to break out of its Cincinnati stronghold and expand across the Midwest, with its new streamlined menu, updated restaurant design, and a proven business model that allows our franchisees to thrive for decades. To learn more about Gold Star Chili, visit For more information about Gold Star Chili franchising, visit

*Originally reported on Gold Star Chili