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New York Action

Creative franchise concepts are just a slice of life in the Big Apple.

This story appears in the December 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

is home to many innovative trends and delights. But many Big Apple-based businesses have embraced the same concept: . Here are a few businesses that are dreaming big and opening up their concepts to the public--and franchisees who want to get in on the ground floor.

New Yorkers work hard and play hard, but even they need to recharge in the middle of the day. MetroNaps homed in on that need and introduced its first location in the center of all the action--the Empire State Building. There sleeping pods lure consumers with a 20-minute nap. Founded in 2003 by Arshad Chowdhury and Christopher Lindholst, the business announced franchising opportunities earlier this year. As this concept catches on, nodding off in the middle of the day may become the cool thing to do, rather than something to hide.

Buttercup Bake Shop
People can never get enough of a good thing, and the Buttercup Bake Shop is a perfect example. According to director of franchising Larry Feierstein, the featuring cupcakes, cakes and other treats has become a destination point, with some nonlocals even making a special stop in Manhattan just to grab a cupcake. In 2003, founder Jennifer Appel decided it was time to expand her business and determined it would be easier and less costly to spread the brand through franchising. However, she is resolved to keep it a destination point and has plans for careful growth, initially focusing only on the New York City metro area.

Fratelli Ravioli & Frats Ices
With its wide selection of homemade pastas and sauces, founders Raymond and Josephine Vivola have fed the Brooklyn community well since they opened their Fratelli Ravioli restaurant and shop in 1978. Now their sons, Larry and Christian, have turned the mom-and-pop venture into a phenomenon the entire East Coast can enjoy. The brothers started franchising Fratelli Ravioli in 2000 after incessant requests from customers wanting to own their own restaurants. Larry and Christian also launched Frats Ices in 2003, featuring homemade ice cream and fried ravioli, which they're working on franchising nationwide.

Beard Papa's
Beard Papa's might not ring a bell, but it's rapidly on its way to becoming a household name. Originated in Osaka, Japan, this cream-puff concept spread like wildfire in Asia and entered the U.S. market in 2004. Its first stop? New York City. "The whole concept is, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere," says Craig Takiguchi, executive vice president and COO of Muginoho USA, the holding company for Beard Papa's. "We wanted to put a stake in the ground, and New York was the place to do it." Its grand entrance was successful, and now the company is pushing cream puffs hard, with plans to have 25 franchises open in 10 states by summer 2006.

Lucille Roberts Fitness Express
More than 35 years ago, Lucille Roberts introduced the first women's-only fitness center. The concept was innovative and new, but now, as society catches up, the vision is stronger than ever. Just this year, a franchising concept--Lucille Roberts Fitness Express--was created to fit the large gym experience into a smaller, more neighborhood-like environment. The brand has a lot of pull on the East Coast, which is where it will expand initially.

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