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The Way of the Samurai

An ex-football pro packs in the profits, Asian-style.

When former Green Bay Packer wide receiver and "Lambeau Leap" inventor Robert Brooks realized just how much money he was spending on teriyaki chicken bowls during the off season, he thought about opening a Samurai Sam's Teriyaki Grill of his own. "I was eating there six days each week," says Brooks, 32, "and the funny thing is that for almost six years, I never tried anything but the teriyaki chicken bowl."

As of yet, Samurai Sam's is not as ubiquitous as some of the other Asian fast-food chains, but considering the health-conscious lunch crowd that pumps nearly $1,500 into Brooks' registers on a daily basis, and a plan to open at least 10 more locations over the next few years, Samurai Sam's may soon become a household name.

Brooks' store is currently serving as a model for future Samurai Sam's franchises. "Based on customer feedback, the look and feel of the other Samurai Sam's is going to be changing," he says, touching on possible franchise-wide upgrades such as cherrywood furniture and stainless swirl countertops: simple, clean and modern Asian d�cor. "We've found that even though we're 'fast food,' a lot of our customers like to dine in."

To the average spectator, running a restaurant may not seem like it would bring on as much of an adrenaline rush as a Lambeau Leap into the arms of Wisconsin cheesehat-wearing fans after scoring a winning touchdown, but with first-year sales projected to soar past $350,000, there should be enough cheddar to pump Brooks up.

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This article was originally published in the July 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Way of the Samurai.

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