Franchisee Partners Expand Vegas Capriotti's Market

For Las Vegas Capriotti's Sandwich Shop franchisees Thomas Gourley and Corey Melendrez, there's no place like home.

The veteran restaurateurs are bolstering the presence of the fast-casual sandwich chain with a freshly inked, three-store franchise agreement in the Las Vegas market, the corporate base of the sandwich franchise. The entrepreneurs, who own seven additional Capriotti's restaurants, say it is an honor to contribute to the legacy of the award-winning brand as it gears up for growth.

"I have to say that the passion runs deep at Capriotti's," says Melendrez. "We use homemade meatballs and coleslaw, along with proprietary meats and cheeses. Whole turkeys are cooked in store every day, pulled off the bone and served on fresh baked bread. Nobody else goes to these lengths for ensuring quality. It is a unique concept and it's very territorial. To have something that nobody has makes it special, and is recognized by our guests."

Gourley and Melendrez, who have been on the ground floor of the development of the beloved brand, are marking 10 years as Capriotti's multi-unit franchisees. With more than 40 years of combined restaurant and hospitality experience, the decision to venture into franchising a decade ago was fittingly made over a hand crafted Capriotti's sandwich.

"Before we started franchising, I frequented Capriotti's. Corey had never tried it, so I gave him half a sub one day and he loved it," recalls Gourley, who, at the time, was an area manager for a company that owned Irish pubs. "We talked about buying a Capriotti's that evening and the next day Corey made contact with the owners of the franchise."

With the most recent two-year deal, the partners opened their newest Capriotti's in South Vegas. Plans also include the remodel of an existing restaurant in Boulder City and a third Capriotti's scheduled to open in the Railroad Pass Travel Center, a $10 million project underway at the historic Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in nearby Henderson.

Founded in 1976, Capriotti's has 100 fast-casual restaurants across the country. The company expects to open 15 new shops in 2017 and grow the brand to 500 locations by 2025 through franchising.

"Corey and Thomas have played an essential role in building the Capriotti's footprint throughout Las Vegas and truly understand our vision for continued growth and development," adds David Bloom, chief development officer of Capriotti's.

The partners are hands-on operators with a guest first philosophy that starts at the door.

"I interact whether I am the guest or the server," says Melendrez, who honed fine dining customer service and operations expertise at five-star Picasso and Todd English's Olives at Bellagio. "As the guest at any restaurant, I want the server to answer a question and not just tell me about the specials. When customers ask me about our menu, I want to interact and describe. It's imperative within our operations to have this level of service."

The pair also say a solid franchisor relationship is a must for franchisees.

"Franchisees think we know everything," admits Gourley. "Most franchisees are terrified of change. A good franchisor knows that the franchisee is a business partner, not an employee. We don't know everything, but we do know a lot."

With a 41-year tradition of slow-roasting whole, all natural turkeys in-house every day, Capriotti's superior product stands alone in the fast casual sandwich sector and the franchisor support makes the continued pursuit of growth an easy choice, adds Melendrez.

"Our interests and concerns are well received," says Melendrez. "The relationship is satisfying on both sides. We build and support the brand, and they support us in doing so."

For these multi-unit franchisees, it is a recipe for continued success.

Published: July 27th, 2017

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