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Fun Food Franchises

Entrepreneurs savor the flavor of their favorite foods.
November 1, 2006
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/169210

Your mother always told you not to play with your food, but how can you help it when these food franchises are so fun? They offer mouth-watering, novel products packaged in irresistible opportunities.

Cream of the Crop
Luigi Cruz wasn't exactly looking for a life change when he went to New York City for his niece's confirmation, but when his sister sent him on a three-hour, stuck-in-traffic errand to get Beard Papa's cream puffs, his life was changed forever. The moment he took a bite of the whipped cream custard-filled choux pastry, he was determined to be the first to bring the Japanese brand to his home on the West Coast.

"When you have the calling, it's kind of like opportunity knocks once," says Cruz, 43. "If you don't answer it, you're just going to kick yourself and say, 'Why didn't I follow through?'"

Cruz heeded the call, eventually quit his job as a senior solutions engineer and spent a year convincing the franchisor to grant him master franchisee rights to Northern California. He even hired franchise consultants to draft a master franchise agreement because the franchisor didn't have the paperwork in place. He won them over, and in May, he and his wife, Candy, and longtime family friends Yuan and Yanna Ongpin opened the doors to their San Francisco-based Beard Papa's--the 13th Beard Papa's store in the U.S.

On opening day, they sold nearly 3,000 puffs, and by their second month in business, they ranked second out of nearly 300 locations throughout Asia and the U.S. With special touches such as plasma screens to educate customers about cream puffs, they certainly have made an impression. Says Yuan, "We feel we brought Beard Papa's to another level."

Spread the Word
He may be an adult, but Anthony Caruso is crazy about peanut butter. "I think there were three years of my life where that was all I ate," he admits. "Even throughout high school, college and my adult life, I have always loved a peanut butter sandwich." Caruso's infatuation with peanut butter became so great that in 2005, he chose it over his career as a technology project manager and signed on to become a P.B.Loco franchisee. Now Caruso, 34, not only eats peanut butter, but he also lives, breathes and sells it.

Caruso and his partner, Keith Broxterman, officially opened their P.B.Loco Peanutbutterlicious Café in Scottsdale, Arizona, last December, offering a line of sweet and savory sandwiches including the Curry Spice sandwich with Curry Spice peanut butter, cucumbers and pineapple; snacks such as the PB Gone Bananas with bananas, granola, yogurt and peanut butter sauce; and even smoothies that are all peanut butter- based. Their wacky offerings resonate well among the young and old--and are even cool enough for teens.

Being such a new and nutty concept, their 16-seat cafe, which is strategically located in a mall setting for maximum exposure, has attracted the attention of radio DJs and reporters. It even snatched up one of The Arizona Republic's Best of Phoenix awards. With extensive media attention and 2006 sales projections of $550,000, it looks like Caruso's not the only one who's loco for peanut butter.