Mooyah To Open 2nd Virginia Franchise In Hampton

Friday, January 10, 2014

Alpen Patel, a 28-year-old Texas native who brought a burger and milkshake franchise to the College of William and Mary campus, plans to open a second Mooyah in Hampton in February.

Alpen Patel came specifically to Hampton Roads to bring the Plano, Texas-based "fast-casual" chain to Virginia. The state's second Mooyah eatery will open at Coliseum and Cunningham drives in Coliseum Crossing Shopping Center. Patel opened the first Mooyah franchise in Williamsburg in May 2012.

Patel grew up working for his family's Subway franchise in Texas and returned to the restaurant business after getting laid off from a financial services firm during the financial crisis. More than two years ago, he invested his savings and partnered with his father and another investor to branch off on his own. He plans to open two more Mooyah franchises, including one in Virginia Beach. He tells his story.

Q: Why Mooyah? A: I'd gone in to Mooyah (in Texas) to meet with a couple friends. At the time I was kind of fasting. I couldn't eat the burgers so I got a veggie burger. I was so blown away by how good the veggie burger was, I was like in awe. I came back a week later and I tried the Mooyah burger, and advertising came on the screen asking if I wanted to own my own franchise. I decided that was the message for me. I talked to a couple people in the corporate office and got the ball rolling from there. I have a contract to build a couple more of these here in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area.

View/Submit Comments for this story Q: If you were living in Texas, how did you end up in Virginia? A: My friends and family, they owned a Subway territory -� so you could have four cities make up a territory -- and that's what they built around. I wanted something similar like that with Mooyah. Unfortunately, in Texas where the chain started, there were an abundance of Mooyahs. I knew I wouldn't be able to get a territory. I knew family out there. I looked at the map, saw Virginia and said, ‘Could I get a territory in Virginia?' It was how I could be the newest thing in a different state.

Q: Why introduce Mooyah to Hampton Roads first? A: Virginia is a big military state. A lot of people stationed here in Virginia, I noticed a lot of them are from Texas. I was hoping for brand recognition. [USA Today also named Mooyah a top 50 franchise for military veterans.] Q: What was your role with your family's Subway franchise? A: I've been doing this stuff since I was 13. I started out sweeping, mopping because my dad didn't believe in jumping straight on the register. Then as I got older, I was making sandwiches and I was practically running the whole store by my junior, senior year in high school. I went away to college [University of North Texas] and for the first two years mostly studied. Then I came home during my sophomore summer and decided to go to Subway. We were busy and I helped out. Then I realized, you know what, maybe not right now but in the future I want to own my own business. After I graduated college -- [majoring in business administration] -� I got a job at Citibank. Then I got recruited to work at J.P. Morgan Chase as assistant vice president for default mortgages. After I got laid off, that's when I made up my mind I was going to stick to what I originally planned in opening my own restaurants.

Q: Does your family help out? A: If you have a family business, family is what helps it succeed. Everyone is 100 percent behind me. We help each other out.

Q: How many employees do you have? A: In Hampton, we're still hiring. We're a little picky in who we hire. We focus more on customer service more than anything else. In Williamsburg, anywhere from 15 to 18 people.

Q: How much do you work? A: 80 hours a week. This is something I enjoy. When I wake up, I'm thinking about: all right, which one of my stores is going to make the most money today? I like being able to control the quality of the food and getting to maintain relationships with customers. At the Williamsburg store, I know their names and kids' names. I know 85 percent of all my customers. I learned from working in the mortgage industry, being able to build relationships is one of my strengths.

If You Go Mooyah, opening early to mid-February 36 Coliseum Crossing in Hampton Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Sunday According to the Mooyah website, an ideal franchisee has a net worth of $500,000 and cash on hand of $200,000. Fees include 6 percent for royalties, 3 percent for advertising and 1 percent for local store marketing. For more information about Mooyah, click here.

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