Thriving in The Windy City
Thriving in The Windy City

Every year, tens of thousands of restaurant industry professionals attend a four-day event focused on the hospitality business. Once again, The National Restaurant Association Show will set up shop in Chicago.

Chicago is known for many things - deep dish pizza, fierce winds, and Da Bears, to name.....

Every year, tens of thousands of restaurant industry professionals attend a four-day event focused on the hospitality business. Once again, The National Restaurant Association Show will set up shop in Chicago.

Chicago is known for many things - deep dish pizza, fierce winds, and Da Bears, to name a few. But it is also a city home to innovation; countless groundbreaking concepts were founded in The Windy City. It is therefore unsurprising that the NRA Show has chosen to call Chicago home.

The diversity of the franchise brands - in the food industry and beyond - that were established in Chicago highlights the city’s reputation as a thriving commercial hub. Here’s a snapshot of a few brands that originated in Chi-town:

Potbelly

The sandwich chain, which has grown to more than 280 locations across the nation, was founded in Chicago’s Lincoln Ave. The man who developed the concept into a franchise in 1996, Bryant Keil, was the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2003 Illinois Restaurateur of the Year, and named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 under 40” young business leaders.

Forever Yogurt

Froyo has been a ‘thing’ for a while now, but self serve frozen yogurt stores have only started popping up in the past few years. Entrepreneurs Mandy Calara and Ahmad Yilmaz decided to be the first ones to bring the craze to Chicago. Forever Yogurt has since continued to grow as one of the most popular frozen yogurt brands, especially in its hometown.

CrowdFranchise

Founded by Forever Yogurt’s Mandy Calara, the innovative entrepreneur will also be speaking at the NRA Show’s Crowd Funding Your Restaurant. Calara recently founded the only franchise crowd funding platform in the world. The idea behind the concept is to relieve the financial limitations of opening a business by allowing community members to invest in a business and own a stake of the franchise.

ServiceMaster

The company was first conceived in 1929 as a moth-proofing company by Marion E. Wade, a former minor league baseball player. In 1952, it expanded to include carpet cleaning and then became one of the first franchise businesses in America’s history. Today it offers a wide range of residential and commercial services, including Terminix, American Home Shield, and Merry Maids.  

ADVERTISEMENT