The real foodie
Led by Gregory George, Foodie Franchises’ extensive knowledge makes it well-equipped to guide potential food franchisees to find the right business, and to open doors for aspiring food franchisors who dream of creating a popular and successful company
Greg George believes that there are eight key points to succeeding in the food franchise sector. While he discusses how Foodie Franchises has incorporated these points into its own operations, we learn how the business tycoon has not only established one of the leading names in the industry, but has also transformed his own life along the way.
“You need a stand-out name,” he begins, “and with that, I have a great success story to tell you.” This story, he shares, is in regards to one of his brands; a nine-year-old concept called The Peach Cobbler Factory, which a friend referred him to after he stumbled upon it by happenstance. “I went to meet the owners – a husband and wife team– and knew from the second I walked into the dessert shop that they had something special. So, I explained how I work, I put together the partnership deal and within 72 hours, I was ready to invest in expanding the business. Eight weeks later, we were executing marketing strategies, banking plans, and real estate locations to bring together 30 franchise agreements across seven States. To think that this team of two had been working their fingers to the bone for nine years and struggling to reach their potential simply because they just didn’t know how to scale up is quite heartbreaking, but now The Peach Cobbler Factory is receiving the largest and quickest return on investment I have ever seen,” Greg shares with us.
Since 2001, Greg has been a franchisor, franchisee and a franchise representative, and holds a wealth of industry knowledge that he believes is second to none. “What I have done is to help build these unique concepts that are all money-making machines. You can’t get cobbler in just any restaurant in the US, and you can’t get banana pudding in four different flavors in any restaurant in America. Another concept we work with is called The Dolly Lama, which is a waffle, ice cream and milkshake concept; you can’t get true Belgium or LIÈGE imported waffles anywhere else in America,” according to Greg.
For the past 20 years, he has been directly responsible for developing over 46 national food franchise brands, of which Greg serves as a partner in five of these franchise brands. He has played an instrumental role in critical start-up phases, acquisitions and exits at a high level for an array of businesses, and through this experience, he has devised a solid methodology to assist start-up businesses with their own growth, and now he discusses with FoodChain how to make this fast-paced success possible.
“Obviously, you need a great product at a low cost, and facilities that could blow up the likes of Instagram. With that, an excellent customer service is paramount, while also balancing a low labor cost. Another important aspect is location, because you know what they say, ‘location, location, location!’ And finally, in today’s world, you have to be a savage marketer,” explains Greg, emphasizing that marketing plays an instrumental role in his line of work. His ability to get millions of eyeballs on the brands in his portfolio are paramount to said brands’ success.
His strategy towards working with new clients takes effect in one of two ways: either they find him, or he finds them. “The truth is that with the pace that technology is moving, advertising and the media have to be able to adapt to stay relevant and impactful, and some businesses do struggle to keep up with that. As a result, their brand is what suffers. Sometimes, they just need a bit of guidance as to how to navigate that territory, and I feel that the extent of my experience has helped me gain a knack for recognizing what works and what doesn’t. When I meet with a potential partner, I analyze their business model, I ask them a series of questions to understand how we can rebuild a future for their establishment, and then we get to work!”
The right direction
Greg explains that it is particularly important to note how the days of word-of-mouth have changed significantly, with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIN, YouTube and TikTok changing the way people receive information; something that Greg uses to his advantage. “I have the skillset as well as a fantastic team to use these channels to utilize them effectively. Consumers these days are looking for vivid pictures, short videos and free goodies. So, when I jump in and invest in a brand, the first thing I do is bring in my professional photographer, and a videographer to put together a dazzling marketing pack for our strategic partners.
“On top of that, one of the avenues that I have secured for this company, and is an aspect that I believe pushes us that much further ahead of our competition, is having our own real estate team, and great connections with banks that know they can pre-approve our franchises because our brands make money. I have an in-house marketing, graphics and video team constantly churning out marketing content for our franchise partners, and I believe that if you have marketing and real estate behind you, you are already heading in the right direction,” shares Greg.
Given the state of the world over the past two years, one may assume that Greg’s businesses suffered a massive blow, considering he is on the front line of the restaurant industry. However, as he reveals, the circumstances of Covid-19 provided an environment that helped catapult his brands ahead of their competitors, owing to the fact that many of them were not full blown dine-in services. “Truth of the matter is, the pandemic helped out our franchise families in two ways. Firstly, our sales were the best they have been in the history of our portfolio of companies I have been involved with, because these brands are not sit-down restaurants, so customers were taking to go. Secondly, we had a delivery and catering element to reach a wider radius of customers. Additionally, the pandemic made it easier for us to find great locations, and our partners saved sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in leasing second-generation buildings to renovate and put restaurants in them,” says Greg.
Ashes to glory
Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic being catastrophic for many businesses, adversity is not novel to this CEO and company Founder. In what he calls his ‘ashes to glory’ story, Greg shares with us the intimate details of the personal trials he had to overcome in order to reach his own full potential. Not only is Greg a successful businessman, he is also a father, and with three children, he has done his best to instill an industrious nature and ambitious work ethic into each of them. Sadly, his first-born son suffered an eight-year opiate addiction that caused the George family a great deal of heartbreak.
During the time that Greg was supporting his son in the ways only a father could, he also came to realize his own struggles with an alcohol and cannabis addiction. However, when Greg went to pick up his son from a 90- day treatment center for what would be the last time, he was awe-struck by how seriously his son had taken his recovery. This inspiration would be the motivation he needed to turn his own life around.
“When I arrived at the rehab center, I parked in the parking lot, and saw a tall man standing at the front door wearing this stylish jacket, and sunglasses, and thought to myself, ‘this man is definitely not from around here, he should be on the cover of GQ.’ I walked to the treatment center and the trendy gentleman who opened the door for me was actually my son, and I couldn’t believe it! He weighed 200lbs and not 135lbs, and was restored and healthy, and he said to me: ‘Let’s go home Dad, I’m ready to get on with my life’. I said: ‘no sir,’ and I grabbed him by the hand, went in, and asked if the director could bring everyone together. There were 52 addicts in total, and all of us were gathered in the kitchen, and I’m not sure why I felt so compelled to speak to them but nonetheless I shared my story. I said, ‘Hello, my name is Greg George, and I am very embarrassed right now because the young man standing in front of me, who looks absolutely incredible, is my son, and I am ashamed of myself as I don’t even recognize him. I’ve been smoking marijuana every day since I was 12 years old and drinking like a fish for as long as I can remember, and at 55 years old, I must tell you, I am an alcoholic!’”
Greg continues; “That day, when my son and I left that treatment center, we committed to attending 90 days straight of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and I vowed that alcohol and drugs would never touch my lips again, as long as I live, and now my son is four years clean and sober, and I am coming up to four years clean and sober,” he says. “Through this transformation, I was then able to actually create Foodie Franchises and execute; my brain started working, my skills truly came out, I’m not as aggressive as I used to be, I am calm as a cucumber, and I don’t live in extreme highs and lows any longer. Getting sober forced me to focus on becoming the best possible person, not only for my business, but also for my family.
“Now, I also support others on their journey to sobriety. I’ll work with addicts and help get them to treatment on my own dime, I personally take them to the center, and help them in whatever way I can. Seeing them go through the same struggles that I experienced and motivate themselves to overcome those challenges is the most rewarding part of my life. Honestly, I feel that recovering from my drug and alcohol addiction has really propelled me to where I am today,” he says. In the same way that Greg restored himself from his addictions, it seems he has applied a similar approach to businesses looking to restore themselves. His son, Andrew George, is now a partner of Foodie Franchises, and is continuing to bring great prosperity to his father’s legacy.
Confident that neither of them will again be crippled by the ghosts of their past, Greg and his son now take on business-related problems with an enthusiastic exuberance, knowing that no challenge is too great to overcome. At the moment, as a consequence of Covid-19, companies are experiencing both labor and supply shortages, yet Foodie Franchises has found a way to stay ahead of these difficulties. “Most of the brands I work with only require staff of two or three people per shift. So, we pay them well, and ensure we hire only the best of the best. Tying in with that, as we discussed earlier, our facilities are beautiful and fun spaces to work in, and I believe that when the environment is exciting, staff are happy to work in them, and it encourages greater recruitment.
“On the issue of stock, I always ensure that our franchisees do not have to worry about inventory. Accordingly, we buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies, so that I never have to tell them that we’ve run out of, say, cups for example. My partners and I have a warehouse full of whatever they need to prevent a shortage of any kind.”
Passionate about fun food
Looking to the future, Greg is determined to continue to work with his son to make the dreams of potential business owners across the States a reality. In doing so, he will stay tuned in to the trends of upcoming generations to ensure his brand names remain unique and contemporary. “I have recently invested in a company called Buena Papa Fry Bar; this concept is based on the idea of loaded fries with a full meal on top, except this is what the entire menu consists of, and so far, that group is going incredibly well,” he expresses.
In another venture, which happened to be a response to the change in demand during the pandemic, Greg also established his own national restaurant food delivery service: FoodChing. “Now, I can deliver food from my restaurants, as well as others. The key selling point to this particular service is that we don’t charge the restaurants any fees, allowing them to reach a wider customer base while saving on their costs. As a result, we have managed to launch FoodChing in 200 major markets for this particular avenue.”
Over the next three or four years, Greg is determined to help his portfolio of brands reach $100 million in sales, and with a rejuvenated level of excitement, he has no doubt that this will be achieved. “Every one of our brands is on fire, and I am really proud of each of them. I think it helps that everyone at Foodie Franchises is incredibly passionate about fun food; as I’m sure our customers are too. So, we are going to keep doing what we do, to share what we love across the US,” he concludes. D
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