Monday Q&A: Tennis buddies serve up new dining option

Two tennis-playing businessmen are bringing an expanding salad franchise to the Richmond area.

Travis Miller
and Kevin Long recently announced their franchise agreement with Saladworks, a company started in 1986 by a New Jersey country club chef. The chain has more than 100 locations along the East Coast and in California. Sixty more are in development, including Long and Miller’s franchise, which will be the second to open in Virginia.

BizSense caught up with them to find out more.

Richmond BizSense: How did you come together to start a restaurant franchise?

Kevin Long:
I always had an interest in getting into the restaurant business, specifically a franchise. My wife had a friend we were visiting in New Jersey who took us to eat at Saladworks there. After I came back … we both shared interest in the concept.

RBS: Why do you feel Saladworks will do well in Richmond?

Travis Miller: I definitely think Richmond is a community with a lot of people who are nutrition-conscious, and it’s an athletic city. It’s a niche we don’t have in Richmond right now. I think people like to eat healthy, and our average salad is 300 calories or less. It is a concept that will bode well because there are not a lot of places like that where you know you are getting something healthy.

RBS: How are you funding the venture?

TM:
We are still in the preliminary process of that. We have entered a franchise agreement with Saladworks and now are talking with institutions to get an SBA loan. We will use that for the build out and some working capital. Kevin and I are 50-50 partners and are putting up a fair amount of our own money as well.

RBS: Have you chosen a location?

KL: There are about five locations we are considering at this point. Saladworks people are coming down a week from now to give us some input as well.

RBS: You both have careers and families and now a new business. Is balancing all of that daunting?

KL: I think we are definitely up for the challenge. It is something we both wanted to do for a while. We are kind of still talking about the best plan of action as far as operating and as far as splitting time with families. We both have wives and children.

TM: Initially Kevin will be operating the day to day business. Obviously the goal is to make Saladworks expand and to work together to make that happen. We are both in our late 30s, and we know it will be a lot of work for the next couple years, but it will help our families for years to come. We are really excited.

RBS: What are your backgrounds?

KL: I grew up in Fredericksburg and have lived in Richmond for a while. I’m working as a partner with New York Life Insurance. I graduated from JMU with a degree in finance. After school, I went to work for CarMax for three and half years, setting up locations around the country.

Travis and I go back to when we were 12 years old playing tennis together.

TM: We both played tennis growing up and we both played in college. I went to Thomas Dale High School and then the University of Richmond, where I played tennis.  I got a degree in accounting and went to work for Ernst and Young for five years. I then went and got my MBA from Duke. I lived around the country and came back to Richmond, where I work for HCA as the vice president of operations for outpatient surgery centers.

Al Harris is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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Eric Perkins
Eric Perkins
10 years ago

Great to see a new addition to the local franchising community! Prospective franchisees should remember to research carefully and appreciate that a franchise agreement is possibly the most important contract they will ever sign. Further, under Virginia law, franchisors are required to negotiate with prospects over most (but not all) of the provisions of the Franchise Agreement.

J. B. Campbell
J. B. Campbell
10 years ago

Please convey to the two owners that we have an excellent location for their restaurant and would like to present it to them. Use my email address to contact me. Thanks. J. B. Campbell

Mike Ogilvie
Mike Ogilvie
10 years ago

Looking forward to being a customer at the new Saladworks restaurant! After eating at one or two in other cities, I definitely wanted one here at home.

Always great vegetarian options, which is the biggest bonus for me. So how long does it take to open a franchise restaurant location after you pick the site… ?

Sharon Nowery
Sharon Nowery
10 years ago

Dear Kevin and Travis: I am Dale Nowery’s mom and remember you as 12 year olds on the tennis circuit. When I lived in the Charlotte, NC area, I ate at a salad franchise at the mall. They had the best salads ever and made right before your eyes. I wish you success and have many fond memories of all the young tennis players. Dale, his siblings and I and his father all live in the Richmond area and will follow your progress. Sharon Nowery

Travis Miller
Travis Miller
10 years ago

Thanks to all for all the kind words and support. We are hoping to open in April/May of 2011. Mrs. Nowery, so great to hear from you. I still see Dale from time to time through our mutual friend Jason Leonard. It is really nice that so many of us who played tennis in Richmond way back in the day are still around. Kevin and I still see a lot of them at the various tennis events. Appreciate you posting that and definitely look forward to you and your family joining us at Saladworks. Take care…Travis