Why were we not surprised by the Soul Daddy closures?
The America's Next Great Restaurant "prize" went against all these principles. It seemed overly ambitious, if not crazy. I had hoped the investors planned to back the winner with large amounts of capital, necessary to open and sustain an un-tested concept in a new market. Perhaps each investor would "adopt" a location with capital and consulting, for example Steve Ells backs Soul Daddy LA, and Bobby Flay backs Soul Daddy NYC.
But, alas, it appears that was not the case. And now, the real victim in this fiasco is Jamawn Woods. We're pretty sure Steve Ells, Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia have other projects and investments to fall back on.
Throughout the duration of the airing of America's Next Great Restaurant, restaurant industry experts weighed in with concerns about the prize, expressing the difficulties associated with opening three restaurants in three very different markets at the same time.
Eater.com covered the Soul Daddy closures and issued the following statement from the investors:
"The realities of running a restaurant are very difficult, more so with multiple locations in multiple cities. After a careful review of the business model and the performance of the restaurants, we have decided that our best opportunity for Soul Daddy's success is to focus our efforts on establishing a solid footing in one location, building the brand, and developing the operations from there. We have decided to close our restaurants at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles and the South Street Seaport in New York, effective June 14, and focus on developing the best restaurant we can at the Mall of America restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota. While it has certainly been a difficult decision, we believe this is the best approach as we work towards ongoing success for Soul Daddy."
Fransmart wishes Jamawn success in keeping his concept alive. We think there is definitely a market for soul-food, especially for a concept with a health-conscious twist. Perhaps the remaining Mall of America location in Minneapolis will serve as a legitimate launching point for the concept. The final verdict is not yet in... Was "America's Next Great Restaurant" just another experiment in exploiting an average citizen with dreams on reality TV? Or, will the show's investors indeed follow through, and commit time and capital to helping Soul Daddy thrive from a new home-base in Minneapolis.
As Founder and CEO of Fransmart, Dan Rowe has turned dozens of emerging restaurant concepts into national and global chains. Mr. Rowe is a franchisee, master franchisee, franchisor, consultant, strategist, and private equity investor. He has published several expert opinion articles and spoken at numerous restaurant and franchise industry conferences. Dan is also a guest blogger for CNBC through his membership in YPO - Young Presidents' Organization. Connect with Dan Rowe on LinkedIn
As Fransmart's Vice President of Marketing, Kristin Martonik directs global franchise marketing for Fransmart’s portfolio brands. She has led franchise marketing for dozens of regional, national and global chains. Her expertise areas include strategic marketing consulting, sales development, PR, CRM and marketing automation, SEM and SEO, brand development, advertising, and print and digital design. Kristin has 15 years of experience in international business and marketing, and has also worked in the music industry. Kristin has been with Fransmart since 2004. Connect with Kristin Martonik on LinkedIn
As Vice President of Sales, Ryan Durishin helps food operators build wealth by expanding their portfolio with high growth, emerging restaurant brands. Ryan consults closely with both prospective franchisees and Fransmart franchisors, and manages and mentors our franchise development team. Ryan has extensive experience in both domestic and international development. He has over twelve years of experience in Sales, Marketing, and Business Development, and he has been with Fransmart since 2010. Connect with Ryan Durishin on LinkedIn
As a Senior Director of Development, Paul Tran facilitates franchise deals between investors and emerging, high growth restaurant brands, with a specialization in global markets. He also has experience in corporate banking; private, alternative, and business investments; and business-to-business, consultative, and high-ticket sales and marketing. Paul is a former restaurant founder / owner, and a current restaurant franchisee. Paul has been with Fransmart since 2007. Connect with Paul Tran on LinkedIn
As the Vice President of Brand Management for Fransmart, Kathy Thombs works closely with new and existing restaurant brand franchisors and the Fransmart development team, to ensure seamless and successful franchise partnerships. Her areas of expertise include brand strategy and development, franchise sales process and operations, franchise compliance - including the ever-changing federal and state franchise regulations, marketing strategy, analytics, and CRM proficiency. Kathy has been with the company since 2003. Connect with Kathy Thombs on LinkedIn
Mark Treptow is a Senior Director of Development at Fransmart, and founding shareholder in a privately held QSR concept. Mark drives franchise growth for brands in Fransmart’s restaurant portfolio. Mark has been involved in the formation and growth of three successful start-up companies. At Fransmart, Mark works with investors, business owners, corporate executives, and existing franchise operators to expand their investments through multi-unit or master franchise development. Mark has been with Fransmart since 2008. Connect with Mark Treptow on LinkedIn
As our Brand Marketing Coordinator, Jimmy consults our franchise brands on B2C marketing programs, branding and social media, local store marketing, and SEO / content marketing. He is a creative thinker, with a unique ability to develop breakthrough campaigns; in fact, he has a viral YouTube.com video with over 1M views under his belt. Jimmy helps our brands be seen and heard in a loud and often cluttered digital marketplace. He has been an Assistant Account Executive at ad agency Greenfield/Belser, a Marketing Associate at LivingSocial, and a copywriter. Connect with Jimmy on LinkedIn
Casey Thorp is Fransmart's Public Relations & Marketing Systems Manager, overseeing our CRM and Marketing Automation programs. Casey manages our candidate nurturing programs, to ensure franchise candidates receive the latest Fransmart brand updates. She works with industry and regional media to facilitate strong PR exposure for our brands. Casey forges relationships and represents Fransmart with service providers, franchisors, franchise candidates and media. She has a strong background in digital marketing, and has been with Fransmart since 2011. Connect with Casey on LinkedIn
As a Director of Business Development at Fransmart, Jenn brings a wealth of knowledge to the Franmsart team in the areas of client relations, social and traditional media, and business development. Jenn has previously served as the Northeast Account Manager for LivingSocial, and was a Production Assistant for Fox News Channel. Jenn has a keen interest in identifying hot emerging restaurant brands, assisting with their franchise development strategy, and matching these high-growth concepts with qualified prospective franchisees. Connect with Jenn Pellegrino on LinkedIn