Getting a commercial landlord to take a chance on their carefully conceived bakery-cafe concept wasn't easy. After all, among Whitney Montgomery, 34, and his four partners, only one had any restaurant experience. And that wasn't the only strike against them. With their eye on a location in the downtown business district of Charlotte, North Carolina, the team would also have to break the curse of a doomed property: No less than three other businesses had failed in the seemingly perfect space in recent years.
After all, national statistics culled by Cornell and Michigan State universities reveal that more than 50 percent of restaurants fail in the first year. But stepping up to the plate, Just Fresh took a swing, and today the lunch crowds--and breakfast early birds--are cheering. First-year sales of $300,000 in 1994 have mushroomed to nearly $4 million in 1998.