Pandemic Doesn’t Slow Down Original Hot Dog Factory Franchisee
Philadelphia franchisee Aaron Anderson is also an area representative for The Original Hot Dog Factory.
Philadelphia businessman Aaron Anderson has opened five locations of The Original Hot Dog Factory since February, an aggressive development schedule under normal circumstances and particularly noteworthy during a pandemic that’s forced the closure of restaurants across the country.
As of July 10, there were 26,160 total restaurant closures, 60 percent (15,770) of which were permanent. That’s according to The Q2 2020 Yelp Economic Average Report, which noted that permanent closure number represents a 23 percent increase since June 15.
For Anderson, the motivation to push forward and even accelerate development came from a combination of personal determination, belief in The Original Hot Dog Factory concept and a desire to keep workers employed.
“I’d originally planned on one location, I’d gotten the soccer stadium,” Subaru Park, “and hired 23 employees for two concession stands,” said Anderson. Then came the suspension of the Major League Soccer season and subsequent wave of business shutdowns. Anderson said more than half of his employees relied on their Original Hot Dog Factory jobs as their main source of income, “so I wanted to move quickly to provide jobs.”
Real estate opportunities began opening up, and Anderson said despite the challenges facing the restaurant industry, he isn’t deterred and instead draws upon his life experiences to persevere.
“Things are going to be difficult now, but that’s where you find your opportunity,” said Anderson, who was born and raised in Philadelphia. “Adversity, it’s about pushing through that. That’s my perspective.”
Anderson’s father passed away when he was 10 years old, with his mother left to provide for Anderson and his four siblings.
“She sacrificed, went to work day and night to provide for us,” he said. “There’s no way, with all the opportunity out there, that I wasn’t going to pursue it.”
Anderson was the first operator to open a franchise location of The Original Hot Dog Factory, which began franchising in April 2019 after gaining national exposure from being featured multiple times on Bravo reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” That’s how Anderson first heard about the Atlanta-based restaurant brand, which serves specialty hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and more.
“I said to myself, this is an amazing concept,” he recalled. With indoor dining still closed in Philadelphia, Anderson quickly pivoted to takeout and delivery, and signed on with “every delivery partner that’s out there.” He focused on giving back to his community, donating food to first responders, the local Boys and Girls Clubs and the Ronald McDonald House, which in turn helped raise brand awareness.
In addition to being a franchisee, Anderson also became an area representative, is a trainer for new franchisees and obtained a percentage of company ownership.
“My goal with this particular franchise is to have 150 locations worldwide,” he said.
Anderson is also developing his own restaurant, Steakhouse 1635, with the goal of turning it into a franchise. The first location is under construction at 1635 Market Street, in the heart of Philadelphia’s business district.
It was the success of Anderson’s first business, screen-printing company Union Printing, which he launched in 2009, that provided him with the financial stability to quickly grow his Original Hot Dog Factory portfolio and embark on the creation of 1635 Steakhouse. Through his parent company Axxeum, Anderson is also an investor in pharmaceutical application QwikScript, and flight simulator application Flype. “And I’m in the process of negotiating partial ownership in a sports team,” he said.
As for his mindset navigating not just the pandemic but any challenge that comes his way, Anderson is succinct: “I do whatever needs to get done.”