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Star power at KISS and FT that also puts in the work


I’ll date myself here: The rock band KISS was well into its stardom when my peers began to put KISS posters on the inside of their school lockers. I have to say, back then I was more of an Eagles girl myself, not really getting into the metallic nature of the group.

But I could see the appeal: They seemed a little dangerous, with rumors swirling about what the KISS letters stood for, and then there were the hidden identities behind the makeup—who were those guys? It was everything teenagers would want in a band.

Needless to say, I’m a teenager no more, but those guys still play on—at least two of the original members do: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. KISS still packs concert venues worldwide, and they’ve parlayed the KISS name into a marketing gold mine, from licensing the name for everything from caskets to Hello Kitty merchandise.

Their dedicated fans from yesteryear still carry a torch—in fact, I know one restaurant investment banker friend in particular who is known to blast their songs from his car stereo.

It seems to make sense, then, that they have brought KISS to the restaurant industry, as our cover story this month illuminates. Editor-at-Large Nancy Weingartner Monroe reported on the restaurant brand Rock & Brews a few years ago when Simmons was the first KISS investor. What has changed today is the involvement of band mate Stanley—the two have made the restaurant business an investment they are actively part of.

According to Nancy’s reporting, they aren’t like regular celebrity investors of the past: Remember Planet Hollywood and the long line of stars from Demi Moore and Bruce Willis to Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who were there for restaurant openings, never to be seen or heard of again in relation to the eatery?

Not so with Simmons and Stanley. Yes, they show up for openings, but they are part of the business, like weighing in on marketing decisions or making calls to city officials for permitting.

I urge you to read Nancy’s article, not because of what you know about KISS, but because of what you might not know. I think there will be things that surprise you about Stanley and Simmons, and the leadership of the brand itself. Even though there is star power there, they still need to deliver on the food and service.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

The small things matter.

Take some time with this issue of Franchise Times, because there is plenty of other information that shouldn’t be missed. For instance, I want to know who wants to work out at a bachelorette party? I think I would have been mildly offended as a bridesmaid way back when if that had been the scene. But today, there is a venue for that. And speaking of your workout, there’s a gym that comes to you at work if you can’t muster up the energy to get to your local club.

Also, which franchise has coined the term “fasual” as a descriptor for its brand? (And I thought I had heard of them all.) And I read with interest a former Marine’s account of leading his business differently—his employees weren’t Marines, after all, and he stopped treating them as such. “I realized they didn’t need to change,” he said to writer Nicholas Upton. “I had to change.” Plus, we have a couple of legal cases worth noting: a David and Goliath story, if you will, and a franchisor whose franchisee lost everything he owned. What will the outcomes be?

With Franchise Times, you’ll find we always pack great editorial into every month’s issue. And that, my friends, is our star power.

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