Tudor’s Biscuit World has expanded its reach outside of the Mountain State and the surrounding region to give the Florida Panhandle a taste of their country-style, made-from-scratch biscuits.
The new location in Panama City, Florida, about halfway between Pensacola and Tallahassee, opened May 16 with little advertising, but still managed to attract long lines of Florida residents, according to the restaurant’s owners.
Nick Schirtzinger, the manager of the Panama City Tudor’s, co-owns the franchise along with his stepfather, Dr. Leonard Fichter.
Schirtzinger said that the decision to establish a Tudor’s franchise in Florida was made because of the similarities between the demographics in West Virginia and the Panama City area.
“People down here are just like Mountaineers,” Schirtzinger said. “They’re good, they’re down to earth, they’re friendly.”
The Tudor’s chain is based in Huntington. Before making its way to the Sunshine State, most Tudor’s locations were in West Virginia, with a few locations in Ohio and Kentucky. The farthest location outside West Virginia was in Xenia, Ohio, near Dayton.
Oshel Craigo, Tudor’s owner and CEO, agreed with Schirtzinger that Panama City was the perfect place to begin Tudor’s expansion into Florida. Craigo said that Tudor’s key demographic is people age 35 to 100, which aligns well with Panama City’s median age of 39.6 and Florida’s median age of 40.8.
“Give me a retired community or a college and I’ll go with the retired community every time, because that’s our demographic,” Craigo said. “The fact that it’s made from scratch and it’s good quality and reasonably priced means a lot to them.”
The Panama City Tudor’s has already proven its worth in the area, with business booming since opening day, said Craigo. Also, former West Virginians showed up to the new restaurant in droves during the grand opening, most of them having heard of the Panama City location from Facebook, he said.
“The first day, there was a minimum of 50 to 60 people in there from West Virginia at any time,” Craigo said. “They were from Beckley, Barboursville, Huntington. It’s been busy every day since we opened.”
Schirtzinger said that Panama residents have taken a liking to the home-style food as well.
“Everybody says that we’ve got the best biscuits in Bay County,” he said. “Some of the competition we have, they think we blow it out of the water.”
Also, Schirtzinger said, Panama City is a great place to expand business because it gives the small food chain a chance to experiment with a more diverse market.
“We have a lot of people from other parts of the country,” Schirtzinger said. “Even with that, we’ve shown that the Tudor’s brand and the Tudor’s quality of food has a lot of potential in other places.”
While Tudor’s may make its way to other parts of Florida, Schirtzinger said that they’ll be focusing on the progress of the Panama City location before making further commitments.
In addition, Schirtzinger and Craigo said that expanding Tudor’s to new locations is always a calculated decision and that the Florida location is a result of the trust between Craigo, Schirtzinger, Fichter and the Panama City community.
“If we didn’t believe in the product or what we were doing, we wouldn’t be here,” Schirtzinger said. “But we do, 100 percent.”
Reach Jared Casto at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-4832 or follow @JaredCasto on Twitter.