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Opposite Approach to Franchising Fuels Sobelmans Pub & Grill’s Ongoing Growth Efforts
After launching the burger and Bloody Mary craze, Sobelmans is now changing in the game in the franchising industry by rejecting the traditional cookie-cutter model.

When you walk into one of Sobelmans Pub & Grill’s five open locations, you might be surprised to find that it’s a franchise. There’s no evidence of the brand belonging to a cookie-cutter concept anywhere—instead of a strip mall location, every Sobelmans restaurant is located in a historic building that boasts its own character, and instead of a standard menu, the brand’s franchisees are able to add a unique menu item or two that reflects the community they call home. But every Sobelmans restaurant is tied together by the same proven business model. And this opposite approach to franchising has proven to lead to positive results.

While other restaurant chains are slowing down when it comes to development, Sobelmans is continuing to experience growth. The originator of the burger and Bloody Mary bar—which recently started franchising—already has two successful franchisees operating under its wing. And those two franchised units were both sold and opened in a climate that’s unfriendly to restaurants nationally, showing that there’s a lot of untapped growth potential available for aspiring local owners.

“Sobelmans is a brand with huge potential for growth, and we’re looking to expand in every Wisconsin market in which there are 50,000 people or more. But that means that our opportunity is going to go fast—this is a brand that already boasts a strong relationship with consumers across the state, and entrepreneurs are increasingly eager to be a part of it,” said Sobelman. “This is a brand that’s always been at the forefront of its industry. We started the burger and Bloody Mary trend, and now we’re paving the way for a new type of ‘anti’-franchise to succeed.”

In addition to historic buildings and a varying menu, Sobelmans defies the notion of a traditional franchise by remaining a brand that’s exclusive to Wisconsin. That’s because Sobelmans is committed to serving the best of what Wisconsin has to offer, from its signature burgers and Bloody Mary’s to its cheeseballs and mac and cheese bites. The brand also works closely with the communities that it calls home, including charitable initiatives and establishing a major presence at major sporting events. In fact, Sobelmans makes the only burger that’s sold in Milwaukee’s Bradley Center where the Bucks play.

Those distinctions are competitive advantages that are designed to help Sobelmans’ franchisees hit the ground running. Between its unique positioning as a burger brand to beat and its low initial investment that ranges from $276,500 to $849,000, Sobelmans is on pace to sell out the Wisconsin market, starting with the Southern part of the state.

“In just one year of business, our franchisees are experiencing the kind of success that’s common for major fast food chains. And our initial investment is significantly lower than some of those opportunities, which helps our franchisees see a stronger return on their investment,” Sobelman said. “Based on the success of our corporate units and the results that our first franchisees have experienced over the past year, we’re confident that Sobelmans’ proven system has the potential to lead to positive results. This isn’t your average restaurant—we’re the classic car in a car show that our franchisees really love and get to have fun with. We’re eager to introduce that concept to more passionate franchisees as we saturate the Wisconsin market throughout 2018.”

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