Bob Orrison served as the mentor to Chris Alford three years ago when Alford joined the Lennys Grill & Subs team as a franchisee. Today, the franchisees turned friends have teamed up to co-own and revamp a separate Lenny’s restaurant in San Antonio.
Lennys Grill & Subs has two special owners within their ranks who both operate out of San Antonio: Bob Orrison and Chris Alford. And now, the franchisees turned friends have teamed up to take over and co-own one of the area’s other restaurants. They celebrated the store’s relaunch on April 17.
Orrison and Alford met for the first time a few years ago when Alford decided to become a franchisee within Lennys’ system. Looking to open a site in San Antonio himself, the corporate team pointed Alford in Orrison’s direction, considering that he had been a franchisee within the system for seven years at the time.
“Bob mentored me and trained me out of his initial location,” Alford said. “Many of the practices that I have, I learned from Bob. I was just the new guy. He’d been doing this for so long. He gave me sound business advice, and that was a priceless experience for a new franchisee like me.”
It’s a little unconventional to witness a 50-50 split in ownership for two franchisees under the same franchise system within the same market, but Alford and Orrison have gone from mentor and mentee to friends and business partners.
“Being friends and franchisees is one thing, but being business partners is a different ballgame,” Alford said. “However, because Bob trained me, our processes are so similar. There’s a lot that can go right in this scenario, so I think this is going to be a very successful endeavor.”
Last August, Alford learned that there was a restaurant in need of new ownership in their San Antonio market. That’s when he decided to approach Lennys Grill & Subs’ corporate team with a unique idea: he would form a partnership with Orrison to take over, modify and renovate the existing Lennys location. Right away, Orrison was on board. And since then, their new location has been experiencing success.
“I thought partnerships like this were much more common than they apparently are,” Alford laughed. “But no one had heard of two franchisees teaming up to do something like this, to grow the business. I don’t think it’s that strange.”
Both franchisees have been splitting time between their individual stores in order to properly train their new staff. They hired a new general manager with previous Lennys experience, and are both taking hands on roles within their new restaurant as they train their staff. Going forward, they expect that combination—along with their commitment to the Lennys Grill & Subs brand—to fuel sales as well as their overall expansion efforts as business owners and entrepreneurs.