Built on Grit and Integrity

TIG
Written by Claire Suttles

Restaurant management and development company TIG has its headquarters in Philadelphia and operates restaurants throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Florida.

TIG stands for The Integritty Group, a name that captures the company’s foundational values.

“It means something [about] who we are and what we represent,” explains Co-founder Pranav Desai. When Mr. Desai, Jiger Patel, and Raj Mahadevia launched the company in 2015, they wanted to acknowledge these key principles. “We talked about a lot of our core values, our guiding principles, and the vision that we had for the company,” Desai says. The three founders all recognized that, “Our core values were around integrity and honesty.”

Why the unusual spelling, ‘Integritty?’ The founders wanted to acknowledge the grit and perseverance required to build the business. “We all had been through difficult times, but then we always figured out a way to bounce back,” Desai shares. “Up until that point, we had already seen lots of ups and downs, and since then, we came out stronger from the adversaries that we faced, so that was part of the naming,” he says.

“In terms of the vision, we always knew that we wanted to build a company that was sustainable, that’s growth-minded, and with like-minded people,” he continues. “We wanted to leave behind the legacy for the future generations and have a vision—that we are not just there looking at one small concept and latching everything on it. It was an idea, and it was a vision that we wanted to scale and grow in a more sustainable way, keeping all our stakeholders in mind.”

The company’s first venture was with The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille and after that, the business quickly expanded. “From there, we built up to four restaurants right before COVID, and we were in a pretty good swing of things until the lockdown happened,” says Desai. “We were primarily in full-service restaurants. We had Checkers restaurants, which is a QSR [quick service restaurant], but other than that, we were all full-service, which was heavily impacted as we all know. So, it was a time when we had to quickly figure out how to pivot; we looked at 10 different things at that time. We were in that discovery mode again and figuring out what our next course of action looked like.”

The team made the right choice with that pivot. “One thing led to another, and we were introduced to the brand Qdoba,” Desai says. “We had looked at that segment… of Mexican fast-casual eats. And Qdoba, with their values and with their vision of what they wanted for growth, was a perfect fit. So we went aggressively in partnering with them, and we acquired a series of stores, opened new stores.” The plan began with just one Qdoba at the beginning of 2021. Fast forward to 2023, and the business was already operating 33 Qdoba locations across five states.

“We built up very aggressively, very fast, and with that, built the team around it,” Desai says. “And when I say team, it’s the support team as well: not just the operations team, but the back office, including our finance and accounting team, our infrastructure and development team, the sales and marketing, and [human resources]. All that infrastructure we developed over a year-and-a-half or two years, including an offshore team to do some of our support work.”

After building a strong team, the founders did not rest on their laurels. “As the momentum was on our side, we continued to look at different opportunities,” says Desai. Their next move was to partner with Dave’s Hot Chicken, “which was arguably the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S. last year,” he says. “We’re really excited to join hands and partner, be the franchisee of Dave’s Hot Chicken for the Philadelphia market.” The current goal is to open eight to 10 new locations within the next four years.

When asked to describe the company’s services, Desai says they are in the “people business and hospitality business. The brands that we work with or we have partnered with are franchise concepts, and we rely on the product for what they represent.”

Currently, TIG is partnered with the aforementioned Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, Checkers, Dave’s Hot Chicken, and Qdoba. “Those are the brands that we work with as a franchisee of the system, but it’s not just about those brands. We are truly committed and local, so we work with a lot of local partners who support us, and we support them back.”

To do so, the team relies on a strong company culture. From the beginning, the company has taken a “more intentional approach,” to build and secure that culture. “By that, we mean that we wanted to instill certain values and certain principles, starting from hiring and then setting the expectation on an ongoing basis of what the employees mean to the company.”

There are several non-negotiable, key qualities the team looks for in employees. “They have to be team players,” Desai says. Of course, integrity and perseverance are also required qualities, since they are two of the company’s guiding values. In addition, TIG looks for employees who are “family-first and community-first type of people, not just about themselves. When we have talent like that, it makes it easy for us to build a culture where it is never about the hierarchies or titles.”

Instead, the focus is on being a member of the TIG family. “You are part of a team. Individually, you have whatever title that you might hold—and that’s also needed—but in the end, it’s for the same vision and the same goal. So, to us, that was the most intentional way of building the culture.”

After such a strong start—and overcoming the challenges of the pandemic—the team has an ambitious plan in mind for the future. “We are looking forward to building another 10 to 12 restaurants for 2024 and our target is to hit above 75 restaurants in the next two to three years. Then, in parallel, we’ll continue to build our team along the lines of the executive level and senior leadership to shore up our growth.”

In 2025 and 2026, “There will be a lot more vertical growth opportunity as well,” Desai explains. “We are looking at different lines of business and different concepts and the acquisitions that might come up, but a lot of it depends on the market conditions and what makes sense at that time.” As the company proved by pivoting in response to COVID-19, TIG is nimble enough to adjust its strategic plan as needed.

Regardless of how this strategic plan unfolds, the company’s underlying values will remain the same. “We are always opportunistic,” says Desai. “But at the same time, we want [to] only grow with the like-minded people who are aligned with our culture and our core values.”

With such strong values to back up its growth plan, TIG is sure to keep enjoying a rapid and successful expansion for many years to come.

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