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How Two Melting Pot Franchisees Went From Employees to Multi-Unit Owners

Kim and Hollis Silva took advantage of the Melting Pot’s Path to Grow Program to become business owners with the largest fondue brand in the U.S.

By Chris LaMorte1851 Franchise Editor
SPONSORED 5:17PM 07/07/21

Before they married, Kim and Hollis Silva had spent most of their life working in restaurants. Hollis scrubbed pots in kitchens at the age of 13. Kim had worked in fast-casual restaurants as a server, bartender — you name it.

Today, that sweat equity is paying dividends. The husband-and-wife own two Melting Pot locations, one in their hometown of Spokane, Washington, and the other in Boise, Idaho. 

The pair met at a local Red Robin restaurant, where Hollis was a manager and Kim was a server. To avoid any HR kerfuffles, Kim found other work before landing as a server at the Melting Pot right when it opened in Spokane in 2008. “I didn’t know much about it, really,” she recalled. “I just heard it was fun and a nice place to eat.”

Turns out, she and Melting Pot clicked. “There’s never been a job I cared about so much,” she said. “Just seeing the people having such a fun experience and really enjoying time with their family, kind of slowing down a little bit. That is what I really love.” 

Kim worked her way up the ladder, from server to manager to assistant general manager. Meanwhile, Hollis decided to go to college and get his electrical engineering degree. One day in 2014, Kim brought home some news: The owner of the Melting Pot Spokane location wanted to retire and they had the opportunity to buy it.

But how? Opening a restaurant takes capital, and the young couple just didn’t have that much saved yet. “We weren’t millionaires,” said Kim. “We couldn’t just buy the restaurant no matter how passionate we were about it.”

Thanks to an innovative corporate program called the Path to Grow Program (“PGP”), designed to help rock star employees move up to ownership, the Silvas got their shot. They were able to put 10% of the total startup costs, while the corporate team provided financing and coaching with a dedicated franchise business consultant to guide and support their journey. 

By 2016, the Silvas became official owners of their own Melting Pot. But it isn’t always easy. 

“Ownership comes with an increased sense of responsibility,” said Hollis. “We had 33 employees, and people are relying on us to pay their rent and car payments. We need to make sure that the business is operating well.”

The couple began to dream about expanding their portfolio. They finally got their chance in May, 2020, when pandemic travel restrictions made it difficult for the Ohio-based owner of the Boise location to manage his store. He asked the Silvas if they were interested in buying, and they jumped at the opportunity.

After closing the store for a few weeks to remodel the space, by September 1, the pair became proud owners of a second Melting Pot location. The Silvas credit the corporate team for helping them to get their second location off the ground, especially during the pandemic. However, this time, there was one area they didn’t need additional support: money. 

“When we called the corporate headquarters and told them we wanted to buy the Boise location, they said, ‘Okay, we’ll start the Path to Grow paperwork,” recalled Hollis. “But we said, ‘Actually, we’re able to just buy it the traditional way.’”  

Nearly a year later, they’re glad they grabbed the opportunity. 

“Picking up Boise really changed our lives for the better,” said Hollis. “Yes, financially, we love, love, love, love the Melting Pot. We're strong believers in this brand. And, you know, we can't wait till we can get our third location.”

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