Ankita Mehta: From Franchisee to CEO
A franchisee with Coldstone Creamery and World of Beer, Ankita Mehta brings a wealth of experience to her new role as CEO.
Ankita Mehta started out her career in franchising by buying into brands Coldstone Creamery and World of Beer. As the head of Shri Modheshwari Corp., a multi-unit franchise operator, Mehta has a deep understanding of the franchising industry and its challenges.
As she begins her new journey as CEO of Shri Modheshwari, Mehta takes on an investment as a Curry Up Now franchisee Curry Up Now is an Indian restaurant concept with a fast-casual menu and an elevated nightlife feel to its drink menu, Mehta shared her experience with 1851 Franchise.
1851 Franchise: Tell us a bit about your background.
Ankita Mehta: I have been in business for 15 years, managing everything from HR functions to recruiting, to business operations. I have spent the last 15 years developing my skills as the CEO of Shri Modheshwari Corp., a company that owns several franchise concepts. I’ve earned several performance awards and a lot of recognition with Coldstone Creamery. Currently, I’m on the national advisory board. I love managing my company — it’s a passion for me. Although I love my current role, and Curry Up Now really excites me.
1851: How did you get interested in franchising?
Mehta: We started as Coldstone Creamery franchisees in 2007. The reason we wanted to go into franchising is that franchising allows bigger businesses to branch out and grow. On the other end, it gives people the opportunity to run their own business with the support of a larger group. That’s what I like about franchising.
1851: Why was Coldstone a better fit than other ice cream brands?
Mehta: We liked the fact that they made super-premium ice cream in-store, and we can mix the ice cream in the store for customers the way they like it. It’s not prepacked. At Coldstone, you get to do it your way. It’s your ultimate ice cream indulgence for customers.
1851: Did you do a discovery day? How did that go?
Mehta: We did a discovery day for Coldstone, Curry Up Now and World of Beer.
The discovery day is the most important day because you get to know the franchise, the way they organize it, the way their concept is proven and what exactly they want from us.
That is the day you will be choosing the franchise. You’ll know if it’s the right fit for you. The franchisor will convince you. Until then, you’re not convinced. If they want to sell you this franchise, they’ll convince you why you’re a fit.
When you go, you have to have great knowledge of the franchise and its background. You have to study and do your homework. Ask any questions when you’re there.
1851: What differentiates Curry Up Now from other dining concepts?
Mehta: Curry Up Now is a restaurant that can take you on a one-of-a-kind journey across India. It’s not one part of India, it’s all parts. It’s unique and affordable Indian street food. The restaurant will also feature alcohol, which struck me as a very strong selling point.
Our menu is really approachable, and when people read the names, it strikes them: Deconstructed samosa, Tandoori deep-fried sandwich. These names really grab your attention. It’s not just the same old samosas or Indian food you’ve seen elsewhere.
If you look at Curry Up’s drink menu, it’s the bomb. Bandit Queen is one of the drinks as well as The In-Flight Smoker and Bangalore Old Fashioned.
When we originally thought of this concept, we had two priorities. We wanted a dining experience that was unique and dishes that could be enjoyed with cocktails. With the food, we wanted to offer a space where you could come in and spend 12 to 14 bucks on any dish and not feel like you’re breaking the bank. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to cook, you can come in, but it’s also nice enough that you can host a party as well.
At the core, we’re bringing Indian dishes and unique Indian liquors to the neighborhood. I didn’t see this anywhere in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It’s affordable, it’s an ideal restaurant to stop for a meal several times a week.
There are a lot of businesses around there, and it’s a mixed concept. It’s also got nightlife. I wanted a daytime and a nighttime business. In the daytime, we’re looking at lunch prospects for companies. They can order small meals for fast-casual pickup. People can also enjoy it at night as a bar. It’s 3,000 square feet with modern decor, but it’s Indian-inspired. We have TVs lining the walls for sports games as well.
Ultimately, I was looking for a unique concept with several selling points that our area didn’t have yet. That’s what I looked for in franchise concepts.
1851: What advice would you give to a franchisor who is hoping to get more franchisees to sign on?
Mehta: Franchisors in the foodservice segment need to be completely transparent about food costs and labor. And every franchise needs to have an innovative spin. It needs to have a new, modern twist. It has to have food that has already been prepared and tested. If you go to a franchise and the food isn’t already tested out, it’s not going to be good. You want something that’s tested and experienced with a proven formula for success.
The franchisor also needs to be fully prepared to support each of its franchisees. If you just buy a franchise and they throw everything at you without offering any support, it’s not a good franchise. That’s why my company was happy to become a Curry UP Now franchisee.