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How Melting Pot Franchise Owner Jim Materese Started in His Hometown, and Kept Expanding across the Country

Melting Pot franchisee Jim Materese spoke to 1851 Franchise about what led him to buy into and grow the fondue brand.

By Jeff DwyerStaff Writer
SPONSOREDUpdated 6:18PM 04/07/23

Jim Materese started his journey as a student at Cornell University where he had a background in finance. After completing his degree, Materese followed the financial path and became an advisor for J.P. Morgan.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s that Materese would be introduced to the Melting Pot fondue brand, thanks to one of his childhood friends who owned a location in South Carolina. According to Materese, his friend was seeing success with his franchise and wanted to develop a second unit in Buffalo, New York, which happened to be Materese’s hometown.

Excited at the prospect of becoming a business owner, Materese jumped at the opportunity, and in 2007, he opened his first Melting Pot location in Buffalo.

Now, more than 16 years later, Materese is a successful business owner, and he and his partners own four Melting Pot locations in places like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Buffalo location.

He says he is constantly communicating with the other locations, but because his hometown is in Buffalo, that’s primarily where his day-to-day operations take place. Materese says he’s proud of everything he and his team have accomplished, and the Pittsburgh location is evidence of their hard work. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Melting Pot location has won the “Franchise of the Year” award two years in a row and has become the second-best unit for sales in the country.

“We’re constantly looking to take underperforming franchises and put in the hard work until we can get things turned around,” he said.

Looking forward, Materese says he wants to continue growing the brand, and with his team, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish.

“I’m always looking to grow but to do it in a smart way,” Materese said. “Things are really going well for us right now, and I think our people have really contributed to our success. If you don’t have the right people backing you, it becomes an uphill battle.”

The total investment necessary to begin the operation of a Melting Pot restaurant franchise ranges from $1.3–$1.5 million. For more information on franchising with Melting Pot, visit

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 more than 90 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. Melting Pot is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Florida. For more information, visit