Eli Turkienicz - President of The Mad Italian

Author: rob@frantechmedia.com

Date: FEB 20th, 2012

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Eli Turkienicz was born in 1963 and has lived his whole life in the Greater Toronto Area. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Toronto in 1985 and then went on to complete his studies at Osgoode Hall Law School where he obtained his LLB. After graduating in 1988 and completing the Ontario Bar requirements he transitioned into his family's real estate development company, Milton Turk & Sons Limited (MTS), where he held a role as a development executive.

Working within MTS, Eli has assisted the company in the areas of retail and commercial development. He has been involved in all facets of the creation of commercial strip plazas. From site sourcing to ultimate lease negotiations, Eli became intimately involved in, and developed deep expertise in all aspects of project development. He has had experience in land use planning, residential construction, industrial construction, lease negotiations and property management.

Eli has had ultimate responsibility for the progress and completion of multi-million dollar building projects and has always been able to complete these projects to the satisfaction of all parties involved be they clients, partners or lenders.

In 2010 Eli realligned his goals in a different direction. Due to his passion for cooking, he has focused on the foodservice sector. Looking for premium opportunities within the sector, he is turning the expertise that he developed in the Real Estate market to Food Service.

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the The Mad Italian concept.

Eli Turkienicz: The Mad Italian Gelato Bar is a unique existing concept, of Gelato Bars. The Gelato segment niche is growing in North America. Our menu consists of our famous Zazzu Hot Cones, classic salads, soups, exotic desserts & pastries, coffee program, teas, specialty beverages and 42 gelato flavors from an old family recipe from Italy. Each restaurant location is open 7 days a week from early morning to late evenings with an authentic Italian experience. We have 2 concepts within 1 and and are now serving a full lunch and dinner menu.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with The Mad Italian?

ET: In 2010 Eli realigned his goals in a different direction. Due to his passion for cooking, he has focused on the foodservice sector. Looking for premium opportunities within the sector, he is turning the expertise that he developed in the Real Estate market to Food Service. He thought the opportunity was in dessert and came upon the Mad Italian concept and started a relationship with the current owner and in 2011 he decided to buy the 2 locations

What was your background prior to joining The Mad Italian?

ET: Eli Turkienicz graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Toronto in 1985 and then went on to complete his studies at Osgoode Hall Law School where he obtained his LLB. After graduating in 1988 and completing the Ontario Bar requirements he transitioned into his family's real estate development company, Milton Turk & Sons Limited (MTS), where he held a role as a development executive.

Working within MTS, Eli has assisted the company in the areas of retail and commercial development. He has been involved in all facets of the creation of commercial strip plazas. From site sourcing to ultimate lease negotiations, Eli became intimately involved in, and developed deep expertise in all aspects of project development. He has had experience in land use planning, residential construction, industrial construction, lease negotiations and property management.

What are some of the advantages in being a Mad Italian franchisee?

ET: You will have purchase power, training systems and manuals, marketing power in a readymade model with head office support.

Who is your ideal franchisee?

ET: The ideal franchisee is a self starter. He/she is a confident person who believes enough in themselves to have the confidence to take that step into independent business but also has the wisdom to seek help and guidance when they need it. We are looking for the individual who wants to nurture the growth of their business within the framework and model of The Mad Italian philosophy.

Tell us a little about the dessert market?

ET: The cold snack industry is growing by leaps and bounds with different name brands coming into the market. We offer a highly regarded premium gelato with a proven track record. Our stores have lineups all spring and summer long and with our new Zazzu Hot Cone innovation along with our superior prepared food menu we can offer a yearlong revenue stream to our franchisees.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

ET: I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in growing this business is the value of people. It cannot be overemphasized how important your people are. From the managers to the FOH staff it is crucial to have good reliable people working for you. As an owner/operator you can’t be everywhere and everything all the time and so you have to rely on your staff and they can make or break you. It’s that simple.

Another important lesson is the importance of innovation. If the three most important factors in Real Estate is Location, Location, Location, then the three most important factors in Food Service is Innovation, Innovation, and Innovation. The industry is so competitive that the only way to make money and stay ahead is to constantly find new ways to entice people into your shops.

What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

ET: Try to find a business that you will enjoy and that interests you regardless of how much money you think you can make. Remember that you will be intimately involved in the business for a long time and it’s better to do something you like rather than dreading the thought of going to work every day.

In your opinion, why do you think that (Mad Italian) would be a great opportunity for someone?

ET: TMI offers a unique and innovative approach to the fast casual market. With its laid back attitude and old world charm we offer patrons a place to relax and enjoy a snack or a meal tailored to their own pace. Also, TMI has provides a good balance of life. We do not want our franchisee to work an 80 hour week, nor should they have to be successful. You are able to balance your quality of life between work and your family life with the potential of earning a really good living and being independent.