Mass Appeal

Reaching consumers nationwide is this restaurateur's plan for her healthy fast-food business. What will it take?

To grow HeartWise, her Chicago restaurant, into a nationally recognized chain, Rosemary Deahl must first deal with the sad memories of once-hopeful restaurateurs who tried and failed to turn their concepts into nationwide success. Deahl's goals may be lofty, but she's certain her restaurant's healthy, high-quality fast food has the right combination to avoid the fate of similarly structured concepts hurt by rapid growth and weak corporate infrastructure.

When Deahl and her management team first sought financing, they approached angel investors and noted Chicago restaurant consultants, who liked the concept but questioned its national appeal. Undaunted, Deahl is now trying her luck with the venture capital market, but she's finding the going is tough there, too.

To attract the funding that's eluded her so far, Deahl's business needs to be in tip-top shape. So we at Entrepreneur sought the advice of two experts who pointed out those stubborn areas that need help. Izzy Kharasch owns Hospitality Works, a restaurant consulting firm in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Rod Guinn is a senior banker for the Restaurant Group with FleetBoston Financial in Boston. While both agree Deahl's concept has significant growth potential and say HeartWise's profitable operating model is especially inviting, their trained eyes have found a few trouble spots.

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This article was originally published in the July 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Mass Appeal.

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