Miami Subs takes center stage with Pitbull
“The world is becoming my backyard,” Pitbull, 32, told us. Mr. 305 (Miami’s area code) has widened his horizons and morphed into Mr. Worldwide. And he’s bringing his sway with Latino consumers to a bigger stage than a sold-out New Year’s Eve concert at American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat basketball team—the next stage of his life will include franchising.
Franchise Times didn’t get the sit-down interview with The New Miami Subs Grill’s celebrity equity partner we were promised, but we did get some interesting business perspectives over the phone from Pitbull, who started his music career rapping in “throwdowns” in the South.
As a second-generation Cuban-American, Armando Christian Pérez grew up on the streets of Miami. The light-skinned rapper earned his nickname, Pitbull, because he could take on several black rappers at one time in their habitats—underground clubs in the South—verbally sparring until he was the last man standing. He’s broadened his music to include the pulsing hip-hop dance music that has paired him up with Latino superstars from Jennifer Lopez to Shakira. His “guest” appearances in other performers videos to give it some spice, ended up thrusting him into the spotlight.
Miami Subs isn’t the first business in his portfolio. He’s an owner in Voli, a premium low-calorie vodka, and a disposable energy strip, along with “a lot of businesses no one knows I’m involved with.” (For more on his involvement in The New Miami Subs Grill, read the cover story in our February issue.)
Pitbull learned everything he knows about business from music. “It’s called the music business,” he points out. The industry constantly tests musicians: “You score, then fail.” It’s the failures, however, that help you begin to analyze what people actually want. The creed he lives by: “Short steps, long vision.”
Rap music paints pictures of what’s good and bad in your life, he says. “Everyone has a story. (Everyone) has a struggle,” he says, and music is the outlet everyone can relate to.
He went to the “independent school of hard knocks,” he says. But those knocks opened some impressive doors: He’s featured in both Bud Light and Dr. Pepper commercials. He’s even found ways to incorporate his vodka into music videos, and most likely will be doing the same for Miami Subs. But, he adds, it will be a “sophisticated integration.”
His equity stake in the fast-casual chain involves a deal to develop units in Latin America, where he is even more popular than in the U.S. Miami Subs is developing a new version of the fast-casual restaurant, a larger, more nightclub style named after him.
“Pitbull is not a figurehead,” says Miami Subs CEO Richard Chwatt. “He’s the real deal.” And his input will be felt at the Ft. Lauderdale-based company as it begins rebuilding and growing.