Chachi's Franchise Opportunity-Founders, Derek Brock & Jason Cunningham

Date: NOV 27th, 2014

Topic: Interview with a CEO


BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about Chachi's franchise concept.

Derek Brock and Jason Cunningham:Chachi’s is a local company started in Calgary, Alberta. The concept serves sandwiches with local ingredients, in a contemporary style butcher shop environment. We are also known for mac ‘n’ cheese, and other comfort food offerings. The company currently has locations throughout Alberta, and is raising the bar for mall food.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with Chachi's franchise?

DB & JC: In December 2006, the first Chachi’s opened in TD Square downtown Calgary. We started the company because we felt there was a need in the marketplace for a premium sandwich offering, above what was being offered by the sub giants. What would happen if you made a sandwich with the best local ingredients possible? That’s how the first Chachi’s sandwich was made and that’s how the company started.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with Chachi's?

DB & JC: Derek Brock and Jason Cunningham first met over 20 years ago while working as managers at Starbucks Coffee. After forming a strong friendship, they partnered to open the first ever Jugo Juice in 1998. The Jugo Juice brand was a pioneer in the smoothie and juice industry, and has since grown to a national chain with stores across the country.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Chachi's franchisee?

DB & JC: Becoming a franchise partner with Chachi’s gives you access to:

  • our real estate relationships with prominent landlord
  • cutting edge store design
  • an established operating system, complete with recipes and standards
  • our management team is proven
  • we are focused on growing the brand with strategy and integrity.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

DB & JC: Our ideal franchisee is a hard working individual who has 5 years of fast casual/fast food experience, and is willing to work the business full time. You must have a passion for good quality food, and desire to be associated with a premium brand.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Fast Food Market?

DB & JC: The fast food market in Canada continues to grow with sales over $20 billion a year. The life style of consumers is becoming increasingly hectic, and a new segment called “fast casual” is gaining momentum. Quality food served at a price that is more than fast food, but less than restaurant dining, customers can enjoy gourmet flavours on the run.

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

DB & JC: In growing any food brand, you have to be unique and offer something different than the rest of the industry. Be true to your brand, and take risks.

In creating Chachi’s, we made a decision to be the complete opposite of the sub giants. So far, we have succeeded, we only operate in Alberta, we use local cheese makers, butchers, and bakeries. Our stores feature reclaimed wood, hip music, denim and leather aprons, and glass meat lockers to highlight our local charcuterie products.

Customers today are sophisticated and know good food. Chachi’s offers them a crazy-good sandwich they would normally see on their favourite Food Network television program. You have to be unique and focus on quality.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

DB & JC: We have always admired Howard Schultz and the team at Starbucks Coffee. They taught us a lot about managing a brand, maintaining quality and expanding with a strategy. It’s amazing to be on the other side of the world and visit a Starbucks, feeling like you are at your local shop in your neighborhood. The signage, merchandising and store is consistent with the brand. We also admire any foodie who takes the risk opening a new food spot and “does it right”.

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

DB & JC: First of all, choose a product that you love and use on a regular basis. If you can’t get excited about your product, how will your customers? Also, you have to do something you love. Running your business is not always easy, so you should enjoy your work. That will help you stay the course when times are tough. Lastly, look for a franchise that has leadership with a proven track record. They will ensure your brand continues to grow and grow properly.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Chachi's would be a great opportunity for someone?

DB & JC: We think Chachi’s is a great opportunity because we are focused on running a smaller size chain, with only select locations in each city. This ensures our brand stays strong and our offering unqiue. We are not interested in having 300 average stores in the province. We want 30 quality stores. Quality food with quality ingredients. The best sandwich. That’s our goal at Chachi’s.