Franchiser Believes Brands Are Built Locally

Friday, December 09, 2011

Phil Friedman doesn't believe in spending his time inside an office.

The CEO of Salsarita's Fresh Cantina can be found most days at one of the company's more than 80 locations.

Getting a lot of Friedman's attention "" Knoxville brothers H.P. and J.T. Patel of Laxmi Ventures, the largest franchisee of the Charlotte, N.C.-based chain of fast casual Mexican restaurants.

Friedman, who grew McAlister's Deli from 27 to 300 locations as its former CEO, is working with the Patels to "take it to the next level." The industry veteran, who says he left McAlister's "in search for something new," is betting big on Salsarita's, which specializes in made-to-order burritos, tacos, enchiladas and salads.

Friedman, who acquired Salsarita's last year, called it an "underutilized brand" that he hopes to expand through its existing markets across the Southeast.

Single-unit franchisees represent 85 percent of the company, but over time, he says he"´┐Żll be working to reverse that statistic.

"We have a good product, a good variety at a good value," he says. "It's on trend. It offers real value, not cheap value." The company will focus heavily on hospitality "" more smiling and making sure customers are taken care of with servers going to them for refills and extra chips.

"Things that are little become big," he says.

Developing a brand can be done in a lot of ways but it's best done at the local level, not through "a corporate structure driven from the headquarters," Friedman says.

"My belief is we want to channel all that we offer into the brand, not control it," he adds.

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Salsarita's Fresh Cantina
2908 Oak Lake Blvd. Suite 205
Charlotte, NC

Phone: (704)540-9447
Toll Free: 866.61SALSA
Fax: (704)329-1718

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