Melting Pot Wants to Capitalize on Fondue’s Appeal Abroad
The Melting Pot's fondue focus is attractive in other markets seeking an American restaurant brand, says Dan Stone, the brand's chief business officer.
In talking with Dan Stone about franchise expansion outside the United States, the Melting Pot exec said, “Anybody that tells you international is all upside is kidding you.”
But the challenges aren’t stopping the fondue restaurant chain from opening locations in other countries, most recently Mexico, which you can read about here. Instead, said Stone, Melting Pot’s chief business and people development officer, successfully developing international franchise locations requires a carefully devised plan—and lots of patience.
“My advice is to be prepared to put more time, energy, money and patience into it than you think you need,” said Stone. “And to be resilient because an overnight payoff is not guaranteed.”
Melting Pot’s first international restaurants opened in Canada in 2010 and since then the company has been refining its franchisee criteria to boost the likelihood of a successful launch in any given market. Front Burner, Melting Pot’s management company, used to sell franchises abroad to individuals, but now, explained Stone, it wants established groups or larger companies with solid infrastructure that are capable of developing at least three restaurants. Melting Pot also increased the minimum cash liquidity and net worth required, to $325,000 and $750,000, respectively.
“And we elevated our real estate strategy,” said Stone. “We used to lean on our partners to develop that strategy, and that backfired a little bit,” so the company brought commercial real estate advisory firm Newmark Knight Frank into the fold.
Melting Pot’s next international opening is slated for late 2018 in Doha, Qatar, and Stone said the concept provides a “strong value proposition for other countries seeking a unique American brand.”
“Another factor for us is, no one is really doing what we’re doing here and internationally as well,” continued Stone of Melting Pot’s fondue focus. “It’s very rare not to have head-to-head competitors.”