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Entrepreneurial Spirit Led First-Time Franchisee to Open a Surcheros Fresh Mex Franchise

Kyle Cullars embarked on a journey into franchising in 2020 when he and his family opened a Surcheros Fresh Mex franchise in Milledgeville, Georgia.

By Jeff DwyerStaff Writer
Updated 3:15PM 09/08/23

Although most of his career has been in education administration and real estate, Kyle Cullars has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. This is why in 2020, Cullars decided it was time for a change and made the push to pursue his passion of business ownership in the form of opening his very own Surcheros Fresh Mex restaurant franchise in Milledgeville, Georgia.

1851 Franchise recently spoke to Cullars to learn more about his decision and what advice he has for individuals considering becoming franchisees themselves.

Cullars’s Journey into Franchising

Before diving headfirst into the world of franchising, Cullars received his undergraduate degree in architecture and construction management from Georgia Tech, as well as a Master of Business Administration. Cullars then spent the next 25 years designing and building homes, working as a Realtor and as a university administrator where he led various student-serving businesses for several different college campuses.

Cullars and his wife, whose lifelong dream has always been to open a restaurant, decided they wanted more out of life. As such, they began searching for business opportunities and stumbled upon Surcheros Fresh Mex, a fast-casual Tex-Mex restaurant concept based out of the Southeast.

“The awesome food quality drove me to dig deeper into the brand and to talk with the founder himself to come to understand the heart and soul of the company’s culture and values,” said Cullars. “These were perfectly aligned with my own — making the pursuit of a franchise of this brand the only reasonable next step!”

The Cullars couple went on to open their own Surcheros location in Milledgeville in July 2020. Since then, Cullars’s two sons have helped run the business. Overall, his family has had an “incredibly positive” experience.

“Any minor negative aspects of operating a franchise are far outweighed by the tremendous benefit of being a franchisee,” said Cullars. “So many questions are answered before I even ask them — and the systems that are in place to facilitate success have been very beneficial.”

The Franchise Realization

Like many others, Cullars said prior to getting involved in the franchising space, he thought the industry was reserved for those with an abundance of capital and didn’t quite realize how plausible franchise ownership actually is.

“I always thought a person had to have very deep pockets in order to own a franchise,” he said. “I was surprised to find so many options available to make franchising affordable and attainable for those who don’t.”

Reflecting on his journey, now three years in the making, Cullars has some valuable advice for fellow entrepreneurs considering franchising.

“Don’t take too long to jump in,” he urged. “Don’t do it haphazardly, but don’t delay when you have the passion and drive for it. You must be willing to work extraordinarily hard and have both courage and commitment in the face of sometimes strong opposition.”

He also believes it’s vital to align yourself with a brand that shares your values and has a solid track record of supporting its franchisees. He recommends talking with current franchisees, and ensuring you love the concept and the role of the owner before making any sort of long-term commitment.

Plans for the Future

Looking to the future, Cullars said he primarily wants to use his business as a platform and means for positive influence. With the help of his children, the Cullars family is planning to expand significantly, with 11 locations on their planning radar.

“I am passionate about having a positive impact on the people around me,” he said. “This franchise allows me to lead, serve and influence a team of awesome people every day, while mentoring them to have a heart of service for our guests. We hope to build an exciting, challenging and rewarding career for them, opening opportunities that would not have otherwise [been] available.”