Suzanne Greco was seven years old when her big brother, Fred DeLuca, opened what became the first Subway restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1965. “I stayed in the background while everyone else was working,” Greco said, “but I aspired to be a worker, too. Fred and our mother gave me little chores, like sweeping the floor and drying dishes.”
Judging on appearances, everything looks better in Scandinavia—the peaceful lifestyle, colorful cottages, lush fjords, sleek Volvos wagons and, of course, the breathtaking, gorgeous furniture that elevates daily living to an art form. It’s a look that’s becoming more common, showing up everywhere from apparel to automobiles.
Nearly six years after A&W’s disgruntled and demoralized U.S. franchisee association banded together with its largest international franchisee and former President Kevin Bazner to purchase the brand from Yum, now-CEO Bazner is feeling confident as the nearly 100-year-old brand is back to growing sales and adding units.
What does it take to run a company for Warren Buffett? Ask Gino Blefari, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, one of the few Buffett acquisitions that have been allowed to use the hallowed Berkshire Hathaway name.
Susan Beth’s car may not be as clean as it used to be, but she still thinks the best job in franchising just found her. Susan (we should refer to her by her last name, but it would just sound like we’re calling her by her first name, so why bother?), the COO of NRD Capital Management, an un-private equity fund started by Aziz Hashim, is the most bubbly M&A adviser you’ll ever run into. “I’m a Type A when I need to be,” Susan says, reassuringly.
‘When you’re filled with ego, you’re focused on yourself, not finding someone to help,’ declares a Halal Guys operator in Southern California. Paul Tran and his four partners came together for their love of the brand.
There’s a reason no one has successfully franchised a gumbo-based chain before—it’s a long, arduous process to make it just so. But the real secret isn’t in the recipe. Meet the founding father of The Lost Cajun, Raymond Griffin, a widower franchising the concept he and his late wife dreamed up that’s grounded in courtesy and respect.
The Flynn Restaurant Group is one of the master operators in franchising. So when he changes tactics, the industry takes notice. The Applebee’s and Taco Bell operator has shifted his focus in the past two years with a massive diversification play that has him gobbling up locations in the Panera system.
Passion comes first for Keely Watson, who owns five Club Pilates units in California. ‘I think with any business you dive in headfirst. That’s much easier to do when you’re passionate about it,’ she says.
In a couple of hours, Paul Stanley will have a black star circling his right eye and a furry tail attached to his skintight black pants, and Gene Simmons’ silver tongue will be stained blood red. But first they are playing an acoustic set for the superfans, sans their signature white face paint and 30-pound platform boots.
When U.S. Marines veteran Willie Smith treated his employees at Juice it Up like, well, Marines, he washed out. ‘They all had attitudes,’ he says. So he changed his way of thinking.
Staying even is not OK for Shannon Strunk, who with his wife, Cynthia, operates more than 60 units of three brands in the Gulf Coast. He believes in owning real estate, too, because ‘cash disappears quick.’
Among the 2017 class of Hall of Famers, Kerry Bundy of Faegre Baker Daniels is a seasoned attorney with a breadth of experience in and out of the courtroom. She and her clients Jen Beck and Shelly O’Callaghan, both of Dairy Queen, discuss their longstanding legal relationship and how they work together to tackle the legacy brand’s unique legal issues.
David Paris of Paris Ackerman & Schmierer is in this year’s newest Legal Eagles Hall of Fame class, those who have been so named for 10 years. The franchisee attorney sees issues from the other side of the FDD, especially where mergers and acquisitions are concerned. Paris and two of his clients, Vik Patel and Tim Cloe—both large operators in the Dunkin’ Donuts system—discuss the importance of having an attorney with a business mindset.
Assad Khan vividly remembers his first taste of bubble tea while strolling through New York City’s Chinatown district back in 2009. He should remember, because that day—and his instant love for the Taiwanese tea drink—changed his life.
When Bonnie Alcid did an audit on how long employees stayed, it was an eye-opener. Now the British Swim School operator emphasizes finding and keeping staff above all else.
As the second-largest pizza chain eclipses $10 billion in sales and goes all-in as a high-tech pioneer, it expects to overtake Pizza Hut before 2020. CEO Patrick Doyle describes the fateful decisions that started Domino’s fast run-up.
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and apparently in a parallel universe they don’t let them be vegans either.
As speculation mounts about how long Drew Brees will continue as quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, it’s becoming clearer that one of the most famous and talented players in the NFL has teed himself up to be a major player in the franchise world for many seasons to come.
But Frank Czar doesn’t leave everything to good fortune. The owner of eight Unishippers territories said he plans for the worst, especially big hits to cash flow.
Spend just two minutes on the phone with Aubrey Janik, age 23, and you’ll quickly have an appreciation for her outsized share of ambition and fearlessness. She’s got a two-, three- and five-year plan, and if it all works out, franchising may have found its newest up-and-coming star.
Failure is a subjective term for Hao Lam. The founder and CEO of Best in Class has had life-changing failures—10, he says—including running from gunfire and being sent to a Vietnamese prison on several occasions.
This operator grew from seven locations to 180, all in the Dairy Queen brand, while still in his early 30s. But his advice for other young operators is to make one unit profitable before adding another.
‘What truck just hit me’ is a question many multi-unit operators ask. But for Rory Smith of Shoney’s, the answer is always to get up and press on.
If there had been an opening in our cover story line-up earlier than November, I would have been the one to break the news that Valerie Daniels-Carter is the coolest woman in Wisconsin. As it was, e-magazine PureWow chose Daniels-Carter back in September to represent Wisconsin in its state-by-state listing of cool women doing impressive things.
‘There has to be an allowance for people to make mistakes,’ declares Gary Moore, operator of 58 Burger Kings plus three other brands. Judging from the operation’s success, many more hits than misses are likely.
How to last for 100 years? For Nathan’s Famous, it’s the hot dog, stupid. And if you’re Nathan’s boss, Wayne Norbitz, the only way to eat it is plain. ‘That’s the way God intended it to be,’ he says.
When it’s third-and-one at 10 a.m., it’s not time to punt, declares former Colts great Donnell Thompson, today a Denny’s operator. We asked him to share his playbook.
Shouts, cheers, clapping, honest-to-goodness screams—that’s business as usual when Drew Brees makes an appearance in Walk-On’s, the brand he has just thrown his considerable celebrity behind. Here’s a look at where the New Orleans Saints superstar is going after he throws his last professional pass down the field.
There have been a lot of ironies in Elena Linares’ life—the most noteworthy of which is as a former battered wife, she created a 1940s-style barbershop, RazzleDazzle Barbershop, where men are pampered while being titillated by scantily clothed beauticians.
Eli Ailloni, 12, strolled into the Rita’s Café in Bloomington, Minnesota, stowed his backpack, and after parking himself, headphones on head, at a table by the window, tucked into an Italian ice topped with custard that was on the house.
As much of the world is now learning from the likes of American Pickers and Pawn Stars, there’s a whole culture around pricing, collecting and selling yesterday’s news—antiques, old cars, collectible items and random junk. Talk to the people buying and selling, and you’ll find there’s a story for everything and everyone.
If Scott Steiner gets booed at work, he knows he’s doing a good job. After all, you don’t earn the nickname Big Bad Booty Daddy for being too nice to slam your opponent’s head into the ropes.
‘If you don’t take the risk you’ll never see what’s behind the door,’ says Anil Yadav, who has jumped big most recently into TGI Friday’s. That sentiment—and an honest voice at home—are his keys to success.
A bored Antonio Swad was sitting next to a wife he was no longer interested in talking to, watching a less-than-stellar Dallas Cowboy football game, when he did the math in his head. A chicken in every seat in Cowboy Stadium still wouldn’t add up to enough wings and drummies to meet the demand of Wingstop’s growing supply chain. Once he realized the brand he created was routinely responsible for the death of more chickens than could watch an NFL game in three hours, he decided it was time to return to pizza.
It’s a good time to be Charlie Morrison, Wingstop’s CEO—two stock offerings, sales surging beyond expectations, international growth on multiple continents, and 133 net new stores in the last four quarters capping 12 consecutive years of same-store sales growth. He asserts that simplicity is the key to the brand’s success. Having no direct competition, he adds, is the cherry on top.
UFood Grill’s CEO decided to slim down by eating off his chain’s own menu. Now he hopes to leave other baggage behind as well: financial problems for the brand he bought in 2013 and is trying to grow.
Richard Eisenberg of QSR International operates more than 120 restaurants across Central America and the Caribbean. Fresh from the sale of 35 KFC restaurants, he is looking for his next growth vehicle.
It was a gloomy day in Cadillac Square Park as I held a five-foot-tall camera flash to keep it from blowing over in the wind. From the west side of the park, I had the perfect vantage point for the good things happening in downtown Detroit—a city many Americans have left for dead.
There was a stiff price to pay if one wanted to be the lead singer of Jefferson Starship back in the ‘80s. “The rest of the band got to party” after a concert, says lead singer Mickey Thomas, still a bit miffed. “You can change strings on your guitar; I can’t change out my vocal cords.”
If good things come to those who wait, then Del Taco’s long-sought deal with Levy Acquisition Corp. serves as proof. Chicago restaurant tycoon Larry Levy vetted the brand, gathered investors and then engineered a transaction that took the 550-unit Del Taco public and wiped out most of its debt. Del Taco’s CEO Paul Murphy and his management team are happy to get growing again, and to capture Franchise Times’ designation for Deal of the Year.
Charles Bonfiglio, a Brooklyn native with the accent to prove it, started his business career in high school, when he opened a pizzeria. Next he designed a clothing line and then sold it, while working at a car stereo shop. Then he discovered Meineke, and “all of a sudden things turned on for me,” he says.
Living in the resort hinterlands surrounding Disneyland, Dara Maleki felt a lot of the local restaurants served up poor service and lackluster food with prices seemingly aimed at fleecing the throngs of tourists that flock to Anaheim, California. Even with no experience in the restaurant business, he felt he could do better, so he dreamt up a concept that could appease tourist-weary locals as well as mouse-eared visitors.
When soup is the heart of your business, you can’t serve just the basics. That’s why founder Eric Ersher tries to keep dreaming up new soups, sometimes from the unlikeliest places.
It was long after the lunch rush, but Chris Newcomb still wasn’t comfortable taking up a booth in the Jackson, Mississippi, restaurant that bears his nickname, Newk’s. The reason was what James Patterson was holding in his hand—a camera. As Newcomb sat in the booth with an ahi tuna salad and a slice of pink cake in front of him as props, he raised and lowered his chin, looked away, looked at the camera just as Patterson, the photographer, instructed, but it was clear he wasn’t enjoying it, no matter how many times he reassured us he was fine.
Dzana Homan is School of Rock’s forcefully passionate CEO, focused on growing the chain of music schools and leveraging its power as a cultural tastemaker for today’s young, UP-AND-COMING rockers.
It was our idea to pose Sergio Orozco next to a Lego man on the trade mission to Latin America. At 25, Orozco, international manager for Signal 88 Security, was the youngest member of our band of merry franchisors, and thereby, willing to combine work with play. On trade missions, you have plenty of downtime while traveling from airport to airport to get to know the other participants, but not as well as when you give them the Franchise Times Personality Quiz. Here’s how Orozco answered our probing questions:
At age 34, David Lopez has seen success and failure. Dental Fix RX is a prime example of the former; Froots not so much. He’s developed strong points of view along the way. Read on for his particular flavor of Kool-Aid.
Mentorship comes in all shapes and phases—sometimes you’re the mentor; sometimes you’re the mentee. It all depends on where in the ride you’re picked up.
‘Beards are hip,’ says one restaurant owner, stating the obvious. Facial hair used to be verboten in foodservice, but no longer, and many are scrambling to rewrite policies. At least one holdout, though, forbids the beard.