I was born in Southern West Virginia, and for as long I can remember, I have been working in a kitchen. My Dad owned a couple of restaurants when I was small, and by the time I got old enough to start working, he owned a catering business that focused on the New River rafting industry. I started my food service career packing lunches and doing off-site catering events during the rafting season. We would pack hundreds to thousands of lunches per day, and one time we fed 800 people spaghetti at a base camp for a rafting company.
I continued to work for my Dad in catering and in restaurants as I pursued my Accounting Degree at West Virginia University. I graduated in the top 1% of my college class, and made a brief attempt at being a CPA, but my true passion of the food service industry just kept calling me back. I went back to doing food, and became an assistant manager at Cracker Barrel – maybe the toughest job I’ve ever had. During my tenure at Cracker Barrel, I helped lead our team to be the #1 store in the country with Seating Index (revenue per seat). After just 10 months at Cracker Barrel, I had the opportunity to take a job with Little General Convenience Stores as the Director of Food Service. I would oversee the operations of all Branded Food service concepts within the chain. I oversaw 10 Godfather’s Pizzas, 8 Subways, 4 Arby’s, 4 Taco Bells, 3 Baskin Robbins, and 1 Steak Escape. This was my first introduction to the world of franchising.
After about 2 years I was offered the chance to work in the pharmaceutical industry – an opportunity I could not pass up to make a better life for my family. While it wasn’t the food service industry, I learned a great deal about professionalism, training, and organization building while working in Big Pharma. I was promoted to manager after just 19 months as a Sales Rep, and that promotion moved my family and me to Youngstown, OH.
After a few years in Northeast Ohio, my wife was anxious to get back to work, but, given that she needed a flexible work schedule, we decided to explore franchising. We discovered Edible Arrangements, and our Franchise Enterprise was born. We opened our first Edible Arrangements location in Boardman, OH, and it was a rousing success from the outset. While Lori didn’t share my experience in the food service industry, she has an amazing eye for décor, marketing, and guest service. She took to Edible Arrangements like a duck to water. After just one year, we opened our second location for Edible Arrangements, and now we have the 3rd highest grossing Enterprise in the United States.
Lori and I have built 5 of our Edible Arrangements stores from the ground up, and we have taken over operations of 3 stores from previous owners. Whether we built or bought, our ability to make the stores a success is unchanged. One of the stores we purchased in Pittsburgh is currently the 9th busiest store in the United States. In 2013 we were named "Franchisee of the Year" and our Regional Manager, Shakera Brown, was named "Manager of the Year" for the entire franchise system. Our Enterprise is one of the top 5 in sales for the last several years, and we are among the lowest in complaint ratio in the U.S. We are very proud of our team, and there ability to deliver high sales with low to zero mistakes.
After watching Marcus Lemonis on CNBC’s “The Profit,” we decided to explore the option of diversifying our franchise portfolio with a “ground floor” concept called The Simple Greek. We really liked the thought of quick service Greek cuisine, while also exploring more of a “ground floor” franchise opportunity. We opened the 11th Simple Greek franchise location in the country, and the launch was incredible. We broke all the records that existed in the short tenure of the franchise, and we did almost $200,000 in the first month we were open. Since our launch, we have been the highest grossing The Simple Greek location every week, and we are currently in opening our second location.