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From Waiting Tables to Owning a Franchise: How This Entrepreneur Climbed the Ranks at Melting Pot

Anthony Wheeler started with Melting Pot in 2006. Now, he owns one of the top performing locations in Littleton, Colorado.

Melting Pot franchisee Anthony Wheeler graduated from college in 2006 with a degree in English education, envisioning a career in teaching and coaching. He took a job waiting tables at Melting Pot to support himself while applying for grad school. However, his life took an unexpected turn when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, leading him to take a year off to be with her. After she passed away, Wheeler found himself struggling to decide on what his next steps should be. That was when his former manager at Melting Pot suggested he consider a managerial role.

Though initially skeptical, Anthony decided to give it a shot. He went to work at the Littleton, Colorado, location, which was one of the top performing restaurants in the Melting Pot system. He worked his way up through the ranks, from service manager to general manager. The COVID pandemic drove the owner to sell in 2020 and Wheeler decided to purchase the business. He officially took ownership in December 2021.

1851 Franchise spoke to Wheeler about his franchise journey with Melting Pot and plans for the future. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Wheeler: So I graduated college in 2006 with a degree in English education. My goal was to be an English teacher and a rugby coach, and then work my way up to become principal or superintendent. I moved up to Denver and started working with a Melting Pot as I was starting to apply to grad school and looking at more teaching options and I just kind of fell in love with the concept.

My mom got cancer and I took almost a year off to just be with her in her last moments. And then I came back begrudgingly, unsure of what I was going to do with my life. After taking that long hiatus to be with family, one of my old managers asked me if I would consider managing. At first I laughed at the idea, but then I slept on it. I talked to my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, and eventually decided to give it a shot. Then, all it took was one shift. I was immediately hooked. 

I became the service manager about six months after that, which put me in charge of all the servers, scheduling — all that kind of stuff. And about a year and a half or two years later in 2009, I became the general manager. I took over that role in 2009 and it was the busiest Melting Pot since I started working. We have an old historic building. It's a beast to operate. Due to the age of the restaurant, I put in a lot of really hard years and late nights. And then COVID happened and my owner took off to Florida because that’s his home base. After COVID, he decided he didn’t want to be here anymore so we began the process of me purchasing the business. That took about a year and a half and I took it over in December 2021. 

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Wheeler: Every restaurant I had worked at previously was not a franchise, so I didn't really know much about it. I knew there was a support team back in Florida that was there to lean on, but I didn’t know if franchises were profitable and I wasn’t sure if there would be a lot of creativity or freedom. But I’ve been proven wrong. There’s a lot more flexibility than I thought possible. 

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Wheeler: It’s such a unique dining concept. It’s not just another breakfast or steak place. The fondue is unique. It’s different. We encourage guests to linger and dine and play with their food. It harkens back to the 70s when fondue parties at home were popular. It’s a nostalgic thing for people and also just a different vibe. Today is so go-go-go — put a million things on your schedule. Here, it’s kind of the opposite. That’s why I basically risked everything in 2021. I divested myself of everything and borrowed money from everybody so I could jump into this brand that I knew so intimately. Nobody does special occasions like Melting Pot.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Wheeler: My goal is to pay off my SBA loan. And with interest rates rising, my goal is to grow our local business and get everybody taken care of in my inner circle. My goal is to basically focus on this store because this store is enough. It's enough for me, it's enough for my family, it's enough for all my five full-time front-of-house managers. We are our own little ecosystem and, as long as I keep steering the ship in the right way, it will all be here for the next generation. And my goal personally would be to pass it off to the next generation with the state of the business in good working order. I want to pave a path for my team who supported me in my ownership process and make it a little bit easier for them, a little bit more affordable for them and a little bit more streamlined for them. 

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Wheeler: We are the highest grossing, busiest Melting Pot in the country. Our expenses are double what everybody else has because we don't get any help from the landlord. The building is also an old library — the first bricks were laid in the 1800s. And then the building was completed in 1916 because of a grant from Andrew Carnegie Pittsburgh Steel. It was a library from 1916 to the 50s, and then became a police station, and then a lot of other restaurants beginning in the mid 70s until the Melting Pot came in 1996. We've been around a long time and the building has seen eight different electricians since I started working in 2006. But we just continue to tinker and get better and improve operations and systems, 

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner? 

Wheeler: If you want that biscuit, you gotta risk it. It's like this: if you're chasing the American dream, striving to be your own boss — and wanting to make decisions that not only impact your life but also that of your family, future generations, and your employees who become like family — then you've got to take the risk and invest. The Melting Pot support team in Florida has been phenomenal; they've always been there, answering my calls and emails, even during my initial years when I bombarded them with countless questions. They've always been patient and considerate. So, my advice is to go for it because life is too short to hesitate. With Melting Pot, we excel in delivering special, romantic and unique experiences that nobody else can match. Sure, there might be similar offerings out there, but they lack the customer service focus that sets us apart.

About Melting Pot

Founded in 1975, Melting Pot has offered a unique fondue dining experience for more than 45 years. As the premier fondue restaurant franchise, Melting Pot has 92 restaurants in 31 U.S. states and Canada. Known for offering a variety of fondue cooking styles and unique entrées, Melting Pot’s menu also features cheese fondues, salads, fine wines, spirits and chocolate fondue desserts. Fondue fans can join Melting Pot’s Club Fondue for exclusive promotions, special events and advance holiday reservation privileges. Melting Pot is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Florida. For more information, visit To learn more about franchise opportunities with Melting Pot, please visit

About Front Burner
Headquartered in Tampa, Front Burner is the restaurant management company for Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., and the new casual whimsical dining concept Melting Pot Social! Melting Pot currently has 92 restaurants in 31 U.S. states and Canada. Melting Pot Social opened its first location in July 2021 in Asheville, NC. For more information, visit