Grilling Prospects

After helping build a chain of sub shops, a franchisee chose to stir up something new in his hometown.
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This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Brian Winders was looking for something different. After spending three years co-owning Quizno's franchises, Winders wanted to run a franchise on his own, as well as bring a unique concept to his home of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I had the desire to do something bigger," says Winders, 29.

That something came by way of Winders' two brothers, both of whom had eaten at Mongolian barbecue restaurants and were wowed by the concept. Winders researched franchise concepts on the Internet and came across Dallas-based Genghis Grill. But because the company was just launching its franchising program, Winders had some concerns. "We were worried about the stability of the company and the support we would receive," explains Winders, who is the sole owner of his Genghis Grill franchise but works with several family members.

His anxieties were calmed after visiting Genghis Grill's headquarters. Winders sold his share of the Quizno's franchises so he could focus on the Mongolian barbecue full time, and finally opened his restaurant in October 2002.

Winders, who has worked in restaurants since he was 16, is now the full-time manager of his own restaurant, which features build-your-own stir-fry bowls with a variety of meat, vegetables, sauces and spices served with steamed rice as well as tortilla shells.

While he's envisioning opening more Genghis Grills, Winders just can't imagine diminishing his role in day-to-day operations. "This is what I enjoy doing. I enjoy working with these employees and customers," he says. "If I didn't have my hands on this, I wouldn't have the success with it as I have had so far. It's one of those things [where] you have to be there to make it work, and that's what I'm doing."

Edition: July 2017

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