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Why The Greene Turtle Franchise’s Former COO Became a Multi-Unit Franchisee

Jamil Jamaldinian traded his executive-level position with the bar-and-grille brand’s corporate team to open his own locations in Maryland.

By Kayla Bodel1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSORED 10:10AM 09/28/20

Former Chief Operations Officer of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille Jamil Jamaldinian is opening his next The Greene Turtle location in the California, Maryland area this fall. After working behind the scenes as the COO for the brand, Jamaldinian saw an opportunity in the Southern Maryland market to further expand and build the Greene Turtle brand in the Southern Maryland market as a franchisee. The opening of the local restaurant franchise is set to add anywhere between 75 to 100 new jobs in the community and provide a new local hangout for those wanting to enjoy great food and watch sports. 

1851 Franchise: What did you do before franchising?

Jamil Jamaldinian: I started my career working for Ruby Tuesday’s and was later recruited by Red Robin. I worked for Red Robin for 11 years working as a general manager and then as a district manager and eventually in area operations. I relocated to Denver to work in the corporate office for about three years as director of all new restaurant operations, which included opening 20–30 locations per year throughout the country, but I decided I wanted to move back to Maryland. When I arrived in Maryland, I was looking for a restaurant business to work for, and the Greene Turtle matched everything I was looking for. 

I started at the Greene Turtle as the vice president of operations and then was promoted to COO, a position I held for six years at their corporate office. My role covered the training department as well as operations, food and beverage and marketing. At the time, there were only about 25 restaurants. In the first couple of years I was there, we opened about five to seven restaurants a year. Around seven years later, I saw the opportunity to acquire a few locations and started buying them from franchisees. I took them on with my business partner, Mynor Hernandez, and eventually left my position as COO to become a franchisee.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Jamaldinian: I had experienced the franchising world originally through Red Robin. When I came to the Greene Turtle, it was a different dynamic, as it is a smaller company. As COO I was able to be very involved with the franchisees and the process of onboarding and working with them. 

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Jamaldinian: I had my own business when I was 20 years old. It is not as easy as it looks. The Greene Turtle brand is much more appealing than starting your own business. The brand has strong roots in Maryland. When you have a brand that is already structured, there is no reason to start from scratch. 

1851: What types of brands did you look at?

Jamaldinian: Our focus has always been to grow the portfolio of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille. We both believe that the Greene Turtle brand is strong in the Southern Maryland market and requires strong operations.

1851: Why did you pick The Greene Turtle? What excited you most about the brand’s potential?

Jamaldinian: Being from Maryland, I used to go to The Greene Turtle to watch games and hang out with friends. I always wanted to work with a restaurant brand that is small and local. I wanted a brand that I would be able to influence and make an impact on. Larger companies have so many layers, and they make it hard to put your own stamp on your business. When I was looking for a new restaurant to work with, I wanted a brand I would not feel like I needed to leave after a few years. I was really looking for a final stop in my career. I was able to influence the Greene Turtle brand quite a bit throughout my tenure by developing the systems and structure so that franchisees would be able to come on board easily. 

I became truly excited about this specific opportunity when we announced on Facebook that a Greene Turtle was coming to California, Maryland. The amount of feedback and excitement that we received was overwhelming. The community responded that they were glad it wasn't a national brand coming. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Jamaldinian: We are the largest franchisee for the Greene Turtle brand, and we would love to continue the growth even during these crazy times. I would like to get to 10 locations within the next two or three years, whether it is by acquiring other franchisees or building out on our own. I am a firm believer that the more restaurants we have, the more recognizable the brand becomes. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to the community? 

Jamaldinian: It is going to bring value by giving people a local hangout and providing additional employment to the community — we estimate anywhere between 75–100 positions. Once the restaurant is open, we will be getting involved with schools, local sports teams and local causes and will support the military base. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Jamaldinian: It is important to get to know the brand and understand the value that the brand is going to bring to your business, and to make sure you are going into it for the right reasons. You must protect the brand — that’s the most important thing. The one thing people don’t realize is how recognizable the logo is that guests have embraced and loved.