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Our History in Franchising

I had my first experience in franchising over 25 years ago when I became the Director of Food Service Operations for Little General convenience stores.  It was a large chain of stores in Southern WV that had multiple branded food service concepts – Subway, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Godfather’s Pizza, Steak Escape, and Baskin-Robbins.  While I had vast experience in the restaurant industry (I started washing dishes for my dad at age 13), this was the first time I had the opportunity to learn about franchises.

I was fortunate to be formally trained in a majority of these Franchise Concepts, and it gave me a deep appreciation for process, operations, and structure within a business model.  I received a front row seat to the value and challenges of franchising.

Eventually, career opportunities took our family away from Southern WV and my job in food service.  However, my wife and I now felt that eventually we would look for the right franchise opportunity.  In the middle of 2006, Lori said that she wanted to get back in the workforce.  We wanted some more control over our destiny, so we started the process of evaluating franchise concepts.  Later that month, I was working with one of my sales reps, and he opened his trunk to reveal an Edible Arrangement that he was taking into the office for an “afternoon snack.”  The second I saw the product, I knew we had to be a part of the brand.

I immediately went home and talked to Lori, and we started the process of researching Edible Arrangements.  We drove to Connecticut for Discovery Day, and when we returned, we knew that we wanted to open our first location in Boardman, OH.  We scraped together all the money we could, maxed out our credit cards, and fumbled through the SBA loan process on an emotional roller coaster.  We didn’t know anything.  Every day was a learning process.

Fast-forward 17 years, and Lori and I exited the Edible Arrangements system with several accolades:

  • The all-time leader in Enterprise Sales at just over 51 million.
  • The only single store (Youngstown, OH) in the history of the brand to eclipse 2 million in total gross revenue.
  • Top Grossing Store in System (Youngstown, OH) 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
  • At one time we operated 8 stores in 3 states, and all stores outpaced the system average in sales.
  • 2010 Multi-Unit Owner of the Year.
  • 2013 Franchisee of the Year.
  • 2013 Manager of the Year (Shakera Brown)

In addition to our tenure and success with Edible Arrangements, Lori and I, along with our business partners Sean and Becca Ferrier, opened The Simple Greek – a Mediterranean fast-casual emerging brand that only had a handful of nationwide locations. 

The Simple Greek came to be from a CNBC Television show called “The Profit.”  While there wasn’t a great deal of brand recognition because of the size of the franchise, we were excited to get in on the “ground floor” of what we thought could be a tremendous opportunity. 

We opened our first store in Boardman, OH, and made over $53,000 in the first week of operation.  We were grossing more revenue per square foot than a Chick-Fil-A.  The opening was anything but smooth.  The Simple Greek had never seen volume like ours for an opening week, and we were having to adjust the Operations Manual on the fly to keep up with consumer demand.  It was challenging, but it was exciting to see what we could do with intelligent local marketing.

Eventually we opened an additional two locations of The Simple Greek, when the owner of the brand, Marcus Lemonis – a billionaire venture capitalist that is the majority owner of Camping World – asked us to take over the leadership of the brand.  It was October of 2019, and we were excited to lead The Simple Greek into the future.  We felt we had the foundation of a great concept, and with the right leadership, the sky was the limit.  However, March of 2020, stopped us dead in our tracks.  The Covid Pandemic was a gamechanger for fast-casual restaurants, and we had to make significant changes at the corporate level to survive.  During the Pandemic, we allowed all Simple Greek franchisees to operate with no royalties or fees.  We laid off the corporate office staff, and I worked for free.  Eventually we came to realization that the best thing for the franchisees was to sell The Simple Greek to a larger brand, which we did on April 1, 2021.  The Simple Greek was sold to WOWorks, and later that year, WOWorks also purchased our three locations and made them corporate stores.

Oddly enough, while the Pandemic was decimating fast-casual food, it was a windfall to Edible Arrangements.  About two months into the Pandemic, we started to see incredible same store sales growth – some stores increasing over 100%.  Lori and I focused all our energies on maximizing our performance at Edible Arrangements, and we were able to achieve some tremendous results.  While we loved Edible Arrangements and everything it helped us accomplish, we wanted to build something from scratch that we could call our own.  That’s where the idea of Boards to Gather was hatched. 

To ensure we could focus on Boards to Gather with the attention it needed, we listed our 4 high-performing Edible Arrangements locations for sale while we worked on building the foundation of a charcuterie board concept that could compete nationally.  We successfully sold our Edible Arrangements Enterprise on November 7, 2023, which has allowed us to focus on Boards to Gather 24/7. 

So here we are – opening our own Charcuterie Board concept on 2/29/2024.  While we feel confident in our ideas and process, we still have a good deal to refine and understand before we can start franchising our brand.  Franchising is a tremendous responsibility because you are asking someone else to invest a significant amount of money into your idea.  Before you do that, you need to make sure that idea can deliver solid results.  I once heard a statement on a podcast about franchising that I feel sums it up:

  • A franchise should be where, “An average person on a typical day, providing extraordinary effort, should be able to produce predictable results.”

This is the task before us.  Lori and I are not franchisors – we are franchisees.  Our main focus is how do we make this an outstanding brand that allows our future franchisees to build a business that can create wealth and a business that they will be proud to own.  We will be an open book when it comes to the financial performance of our store and all franchise locations.  The Item 19 in the FDD will be completely comprehensive.  If we don’t believe that franchisees can be successful with our brand, we won’t sell franchises. 

We have vigorously tried to begin with the end in mind.  Unlike other charcuterie concepts, we are building out proprietary technology that will give us ownership of the customer data, loyalty, inventory, and more.  Our goal was to take everything that we loved about our experience as franchisees and bring it with us, while changing the majority of things that we didn’t like about being franchisees.  We have work to do to make sure that we are ready to allow other people to operate this brand in their markets, but we will be looking at every operational and marketing component to make sure that when we start offering franchise locations, our franchise partners will have an avenue to success.

While we appreciate your interest, right now, we just aren’t ready.  Please keep checking back, and sign up for our newsletter, so you can stay abreast of all things Boards to Gather.


Ron & Lori Taylor