Veteran restaurateur Bruce Swisshelm and a group of undisclosed investors purchased the San Francisco Oven namesake, trademark and logos July 15, and have plans to expand the bay-themed five-unit franchise restaurant chain.
Swisshelm’s partners, including some family members, bought the international franchise from Springfield-based San Francisco Oven LLC, led by Brian Kubik, Paul Freeman and Jeff Hurshman. Neither Swisshelm nor Kubik would disclose terms of the deal.
Kubik and partners brought SFO to Springfield in 2006, and in late 2007 bought out the franchisor, which then had about nine franchise locations. The small chain started in Cleveland, by Matt Harper and Eddie Cerino.
The Springfield franchise, Oven Spaces LLC, later opened two Springfield locations and one in Branson.
Swisshelm is owner of the Swisshelm Group and three area Macaroni Grill restaurants, McAlister’s Deli sites in Florida, and he also held partial ownership in Rivals on South Glenstone Avenue before it closed July 1. The Swisshelm Group held the local Burger King franchise rights for nearly 33 years before selling to Duke and King Acquisition Co. in March 2007.
Swisshelm created San Francisco Oven Inc. to act as franchisor of the restaurant chain.
“I originated that name a month ago,” Swisshelm said, adding that he’ll act as president of the franchisor, with son Joe Swisshelm as chief financial officer, vice president of finance and development, and director of development, and son-in-law Travis Parker as vice president of operations.
San Francisco Oven Inc. will share its headquarters with the Swisshelm Group at 2847 S. Ingram Mill Road. While operated separately, Swisshelm Group purchased the franchise rights to the San Francisco Oven at 1845 E. Sunshine St. and the location at Branson Landing.
A third local eatery, 1110 E. Republic Road, closed in mid-July, Kubik said, and MaMa Jean’s Market is expanding into the vacant Green Circle Shopping Center space with plans to open later this month, according to www.mamajeansmarket.com.
“We bought what was available, and what was available were the two stores in the area and nationally the right to do business,” Swisshelm said.
There are currently five SFO franchise stores in operation: the two local restaurants, two in the Dallas area and one in El Paso, Texas.
Including the Swisshelm Group, there are three franchisees, but Swisshelm declined to name of the other two.
Already, two more locations are in the works: one in Springfield at an undisclosed site, with the Swisshelm Group acting as franchisee, and one in El Paso, Swisshelm said.
The rights purchased by Swisshelm and his investors allow for franchises to be built in all 50 states, Mexico and China. Swisshelm said he hopes to go beyond continental expansion and move into international territory in the future.
Kubik said he thinks Swisshelm could likely have success with SFO.
“Bruce is a pretty impressive businessman, in my opinion,” he said. “If anybody can make a concept build, it would be him and his family. We weren’t set up like they are to take it to the next level.”
San Francisco Oven Inc. will begin selling franchises on a national basis Sept. 1, Swisshelm said.
SFO franchisees pay a $25,000 franchise fee, 5 percent of sales in royalties and a 1 percent fee used for marketing and advertising, he said.
The restaurant’s Web site, www.sanfranciscooven.com
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