2013 is looking like the year of the franchise. Organizing her shop an hour before the doors opened, Z Pie owner Lynette Eddy told us they were "Blowin' it up! We're taking it to the next level."
5 years ago during our recession, Lynette wouldn't have dared to open a new restaurant. Now her "Z-Pie", a pot pie restaurant company that originated in California, is the latest addition to Reno's West Street Market. Why bring Z Pie to Reno? Lynette says, "There's a lot going on, a lot of potential."
She's not alone. Check out the franchises expected to open in Reno this year: Chipotle…5 Guys Burgers…Steak And Shake, Panera Bread and Dunkin' Donuts. An Infiniti dealership is coming, and there are serious rumors of a Cheesecake Factory.
And the franchises already open here are growing too. After 35 years running some local McDonalds, Luther Mack, Jr. Is now doing the same with Popeye's. His second one in town opened just months ago on north McCarren near Mae Anne. As he told us, "Yeah it's growing, not only in Reno. It's a popular item right now, really hot."
Mack says for the local owner, the national brands offer experience, structure and support. That's something Lynette, a former hospice worker, really needed. As she told us, "I've never run a business before, so I needed help and a little guidance getting off the ground."
The incentives for local franchise owners are tough to pass up. Leasing and real estate is cheaper than it was 5 years ago. The national brands offer lending opportunities and co-op advertising deals. Franchises also bring a customer base. Z Pie manager Michael Tragash says they get many customers who visit or move here from California. "They see Z Pie there, come back, realize we're here and say, 'Oh they're in my hometown,' Then we get that support and word of mouth going."
The Z Pie franchise, like others, is more local than you may think. They serve local coffee, local beer, wine and produce. They buy local printing and clothing. A local contractor did the renovation. Z Pie goes the extra mile and hires young people who are aged out of the foster care system, giving them their first job experience.
And all franchises offer the same thing independents do: as Luther Mack put it, "Jobs. I think that's important right now with the unemployment situation. We're able to reduce that a little bit, so I think that's a good thing for our community."
So the next time you drive by a McDonald's, a Jack in the Box or a Dairy Queen and think 'Oh there's corporate America again,' think again. The local owners live here, and they hire here.
-Written by John Potter
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