David Bloom is the Chief Development and Operating Officer of Capriotti’s and Wing Zone. David’s early career in the restaurant and hotel industries included working with and for some of the most iconic brands and leaders in their respective industries, where he learned how to strategically accelerate sustainable brand expansion. Having grown up in the restaurant industry in and around NYC, David’s entrepreneurial career began as a large multi-unit franchisee and serving as the SVP of Brand Expansion for Quiznos, growing it from a small regional brand of 18 restaurants to opening over 5,000 locations in 28 countries. Subsequent senior roles included the rapid growth of numerous enterprises, including; Clockwork Home Services with system-wide revenues in excess of $2.5 billion, Bridge International Academies based in Nairobi, Kenya, now the fastest-growing education company in the world. Famous Brands International with approximately 900 franchised restaurants in over 30 countries and as President of Office Evolution, a high-growth franchise brand in the shared workspace sector. Today, David is responsible for all aspects of franchise development and operations for Capriotti’s, scaling a recently acquired fast-casual concept Wing Zone to new heights.
In his current role at Capriotti’s, David oversees franchise development and operations, contributing to the brand’s exceptional growth and recognition. Capriotti’s has received numerous awards, including the Franchise Innovation 2020 Award and being named in the Top 100 Movers and Shakers by Fast Casual.
David started his career in restaurants at a very early age growing up in and around New York and being exposed to some amazing people that taught me what was possible in life and how to achieve that through working hard. He moved from New York to Las Vegas to attend UNLV because he thought it was a great place to pursue his interest in the hospitality industry and be able to work so that he could pay for his education. Throughout his career, David has been incredibly blessed to work for and with many great leaders such as Norman Brinker, restaurateur, founder of Steak and Ale, and CEO of Brinker International, which owns Chili’s Grill and Bar, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Maggiano’s Little Italy, revolutionized casual-dining restaurants in the United States. In his career, he helped create restaurants that offered high-quality dining at affordable prices and turned Chili’s from a small chain of 21 burger joints to one of the world’s largest casual-dining companies. His impact continues to be felt throughout the industry.
Venturing Into The Franchising Business
Quiznos only had 18 shops in Denver, Colorado when David Bloom and his partners first encountered them. They proceeded to open the first locations outside of Denver, pioneering the development of the brand throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Chicago as multi-unit owners and area developers. Bloom was then invited to join the corporate leadership team to establish an accelerated development program, which proved extremely successful. They went on to open over 5,000 restaurants in 28 countries before the brand was sold to a large institutional investment group.
Over the last 25 years, David Bloom has had the opportunity to build on that early success and work with numerous brands across a wide range of industries, both domestically and internationally. However, the lessons he learned from his great early mentors, people who believed in him as a business leader, entrepreneur, and franchise owner, have never left him. He has consistently applied these lessons and strived to do the same for many others throughout the years.
Economics of Running a Restaurant Franchise
Running restaurants or managing any business requires a very different skill set than franchising and growing a business – these are two distinct competencies. David Bloom often sees franchisees who have operated numerous locations under a brand and believe that this experience qualifies them to become franchisors or to purchase and expand a company. However, they rarely succeed because the skills needed to grow and scale a business are completely different from those necessary to operate that business day in and day out.
According to Bloom, there are two main considerations. Firstly, the skill sets required are different. Secondly, there are certain ‘rules of the road’ that need to be followed. If these guidelines are not in place, a business may struggle to franchise successfully. Even if a business is popular, it might not be scalable for franchising.
In any franchise, having strong unit economics is critical. There are certain ratios to maintain, such as the capital expenditure (CapEx) to revenue ratio, ideally close to 3 to 1. For instance, if the cost to open a location is 500 thousand dollars, it should ideally generate revenue of 1.5 million dollars. If all other expenses within the restaurant industry are within norms, then a decent return on investment, around 30%, can be expected.
Reflecting on His Journey
“I’ve always been more drawn to a really interesting, maybe some entrepreneurial challenge versus, Hey, I know how to do this. I can just do this and make money at it. You know, financial rewards are important to me. Still, the opportunity to grow and maximize what I believe to be my potential, like in my head, doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. Like, that’s my goal in life. I want to finish life saying I did the best with what I had I what I knew I was capable of certain things and I went for it versus looking back and saying, you know, I played it safe”
David Bloom | CDO, COO, Capriotti’s and Wing Zone
Here are the top takeaways from David’s Interview:
- Passion is Key: One of the key takeaways from David Bloom’s podcast interview is the importance of having a genuine passion for the restaurant industry. According to David, passion fuels dedication and commitment, leading to personal fulfillment and success in the industry. He highlights the joy of creating culinary masterpieces and the satisfaction of providing exceptional service as driving forces behind his own journey.
- Embrace Change: The restaurant landscape constantly evolves, and successful restaurateurs must be adaptable and open to new ideas and technologies. David emphasizes the need to embrace change and innovation to stay relevant and meet evolving consumer preferences. From integrating new technologies to reimagining operational strategies, embracing change is a vital aspect of long-term success in the industry.
- Finding Franchisee Fit: Selecting the right franchise partner for your restaurant business is pivotal for success. Start by understanding the specific needs of your franchise, such as industry experience, market understanding, and shared vision, and seek a partner who aligns with these. It’s essential to conduct thorough background checks on potential partners, considering their financial capacity and industry experience. Moreover, compatibility is critical; evaluate if the potential partner’s work ethic, management style, and business vision align with yours. Also, ensure your partner possesses the necessary financial resources for the initial investment, sustaining operations, and potential expansions.
The Road Ahead for Capriotti’s and Wing Zone
In 2022, Capriotti’s and Wing Zone were celebrated and recognized by industry leaders and peers for their technological innovation and impressive performance in several aspects. For the first time, Capriotti’s landed a spot on Inc. Magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list, the most respected ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Additionally, Capriotti’s was named one of the top 25 most successful brands on Fast Casual’s 2022 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list. The brand closed last year with a total of 235 new shops – 99 Capriotti’s and 136 Wing Zones.
Other wins for Capriotti’s and Wing Zone in 2022 include the signing of a 50-unit Master Franchise agreement with Village Food Courts (VFC) to expand both brands in the Republic of India, the signing of a 30-unit franchise agreement with Viva Group to bring Wing Zone to the Philippines, Wing Zone opening the first robotic outfitted ghost kitchen in Pasadena, California, and Wing Zone opening their first brick and mortar location in the state of California.
Today, both brands are backed by a corporate leadership team that offers a continuous support program for franchise partners through online and field programs, which provides significant support for marketing, retail sales, operations, and growth strategies through every stage of their ownership.