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Inspiration from grilled cheese to the high seas


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I was, by no means, a fabulous cook when my kids were young. I was a working mom, so gourmet cooking took a back seat to shuttling kids to piano lessons and baseball practice, helping them with homework, and baths before bedtime. I did cook, don’t get me wrong, but it was not what you would call inventive.

Had I known I could dress up a grilled cheese sandwich with gouda, caramelized apples, cured ham and rosemary butter, I might have tried a little harder to give my meals that bit of flair. Once I read Senior Editor Tom Kaiser’s cover story on Heidi Gibson, I thought I could have been thus inspired way back then.

It helps that Gibson is the founder, concept chef and co-owner of the franchise brand The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. Her adventure is all part of this month’s Kitchen Royalty feature, which presents the stories of five franchise chefs creating vibrant menus for their concepts, and how they got be head honcho in the kitchen.

In addition to whipping up grilled cheese creations (coffee-rubbed cheddar, lavender and bacon, anyone?), Gibson has two other jobs in addition to being a wife and a mother.

You’ll want to read Tom’s profile on how she juggles it all, while at the same time striving to build more locations and possibly start another culinary concept someday.

If that isn’t inspiring enough, you’ll also want to page back to our Franchising Gives Back feature in this issue. For the last few years, the International Franchise Association has sponsored the Franchising Gives Back awards, which honors franchisors and franchisees who help out their communities. Franchise Times has been the media partner for this effort since its inception five years ago. The awards program culminates in a celebration September 9.

Franchise Times Editor Laura Michaels and her editorial team have documented the generosity and energy of these folks, whose efforts range from supplying teachers with the classroom essentials, to supporting wounded service members.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

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

Applebee’s franchisee, The Rose Group, is one such company that will be on stage to accept an award. Since 2010, the company has raised more than $14.5 million via fundraising and in-kind donations. Not only have these programs been mandated by management, but employees across the organization are involved. “It’s very clear our team members want employers who are involved in the community,” said Cathi Chuck, vice president of marketing for The Rose Group. “They want to be part of something bigger.”

Hal Koster, The Aleethia Foundation’s executive director, told FT’s Nick Upton that without Sports Clips’ involvement, “we couldn’t be around. We couldn’t afford to do it.”

If that doesn’t motivate you to get off the couch and become a doer, then you may want to read about the franchise investment banker whose other job is captaining a sailboat for transpacific races, and other high seas adventures. We’ve got that story, too.

Or, how about the Wisconsin entrepreneur whose family made her drive 30 minutes just to get to a hamburger at a Culver’s. Impressed, she dove in as a franchisee and years later now owns nine. She tells Franchise Times her trick to keeping employees, some for 10 or 15 years, is that she “goes above and beyond the industry.” She also survived a brain tumor, and that employee loyalty served her well when “everyone just stood up and came together.”

When someone asks me what I like best about being in this business, I always say, “the people.” It sounds corny, but how can you read these stories and not be galvanized? By all means, page through this issue and get inspired.

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