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Neighbors Combine Business Ownership and Hospitality Expertise to Open Voodoo Brewing Franchise

A hospitality veteran came across the brew pub franchise concept and presented the idea to his entrepreneurial neighbor. The pair are teaming up to bring their community great beer and great food.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
SPONSORED 8:08AM 06/17/24

Neighbors-turned-close-friends Chris Rudin and Ryan Locke decided to combine their respective hospitality experience and business acumen for their venture into franchising with Voodoo Brewing Co. Rudin has over 15 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry, while Locke is a true entrepreneur with a decade of experience in owning diverse businesses.

The duo look forward to revitalizing a long-vacant location in Jacksonville, Florida, to create a community hub where friends and family can gather. 

“We are here to serve the community and to be a place where friends and family can get together over good food and a good beer,” said Locke.

1851 Franchise spoke with Rudin and Locke to learn more about their journey into franchising and their 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?

Chris Rudin: I've been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for over 15 years. I've worked pretty much every position you could possibly think of in the restaurant industry. I'm on the food service equipment side now as a VP of Sales, but opening up a brewery was always something I wanted to do. When I saw the Voodoo franchise model a couple of years ago, I was very interested in it. 

Ryan Locke: I've spent the last 10 years owning businesses of all sorts; I guess you could say I'm an entrepreneur. I really had no restaurant experience, but I have owned and built businesses in various sectors and hospitality has always been something I've wanted to be involved in. 

Chris and I are really good friends and neighbors. We’ve been neighbors for nearly five years, and he brought the concept to me. Chris and I make a good team; what he's really good at, I'm not good at and vice versa. 

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?

Rudin: I worked with a lot of different franchises previously. I knew a lot about it, even though they are all very different. Voodoo’s “anti-franchise” model allows you to make it your own while sticking to the brand’s standards.

Locke: Everything I’ve done previously was independently owned, so I was apprehensive about the franchise model at first. I have heard horror stories, but being on the other side with Voodoo, we have a voice and they are very receptive to feedback from us. I have nothing but positive things to say about the brand and my experience so far.

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

Rudin: Voodoo had a brand established, but it is still growing and emerging. They’re on the upswing. They had operating standards and procedures in place, but I also wanted to get in on the emerging level. 

Locke: Voodoo has great standards and our core values align with theirs.

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

Rudin: We're looking to bring the community of San Marco within Jacksonville a setting where everyone can gather. This specific location has been vacant for a little over five years, so it's been in desperate need of something. With the amount of foot traffic that we get through here and the amount of the buzz that we've gotten so far, we think the community will love it. 

There's definitely room for growth in the future. We want to get this one off the ground and make sure it is very successful and then we will go from there. 

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

Rudin: I have a passion for hospitality and Ryan has a background in business ownership. We balance each other out and two heads are better than one. 

Locke: We can’t stress enough that this will be a family-oriented business. We are located in a historical building, and we are here to serve the community and to be a place where friends and family can get together over good food and a good beer.

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

Rudin: Do as I say not as I do! Don’t stress. Try not to sweat the small stuff because it will all work out in the end. Ask questions — there are no stupid questions.

Locke: Do your homework. 


More than just a brewery, Voodoo Brewing Co. is a community of passionate beer lovers dedicated to pushing the boundaries of craft beer. Alongside world-renowned “liquid gold,” provided directly from the brewery, local owners offer killer food, craft cocktails and hard seltzer in their community-focused brewpubs. Each location has a customized logo, locally inspired menu and consistent local events, allowing Voodoo Brewing Co. franchise partners to become truly immersed in their communities. With 18 locations across multiple states, Voodoo Brewing Co. has already captured the hearts of beer enthusiasts nationwide and has proven itself as the fastest-growing brewpub franchise in the world. Now, it is on track to quickly grow roots across the nation. For more information, visit