The winners of the 2017 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were announced in October. Amici was named Restaurateur of the Year: Fanchisee.
By Nancy Wood
Amici franchise owners/operators Jonathan “Bob” Ewing and Jon Joiner know the meaning of “high risk, high reward.”
“We bought into Amici at the beginning of 2009,” say the partners, “definitely a tough economic atmosphere.”
Lucky for them, the duo already had a good look at the business from the inside up.
The two began working at the Milledgeville location while attending Georgia College & State University in early 2000 and 2001. After working their way up the kitchen ranks, by 2007 Ewing had become the general manager and Joiner, the kitchen manager.
“We already worked with a concept that we believed in,” they say. “We saw potential growth in surrounding markets and within the brand.” When the founder started offering franchises in 2008, Ewing and Joiner took the plunge – becoming owner/operators of the very location they had worked in. They haven’t looked back.
After adding their second Amici location at Lake Oconee in 2013, the partners are now focused on their third location in Macon. Although they consider owning three restaurants in eight years a great accomplishment, it certainly has had its share of obstacles.
“Expansion is both challenging and rewarding,” say Ewing and Joiner. “Growing our business to multiple locations has been the hardest and also the most fun part of being business owners.”
One of their greatest challenges, common in the industry, is maintaining a sustainable workforce. “Labor costs are things that you have to monitor and react to, while preserving your concept and not sacrificing quality.”
Another challenge they face is keeping up with new technology. “Amici is utilizing new technology integrated into POS, inventory and mobile ordering,” they say. And the pair see trends like farm-to-table, gluten-friendly, healthier options, as well as smaller menus and express/counter take-out, continuing to gain steam in their industry sector.
As for the most rewarding aspects of their business, Ewing and Joiner say “developing lasting community relationships is one of the best parts of what we do.” And they are proud of the fact that the jobs they’ve created in cities with high unemployment have been important to Georgia’s economy and the industry.
The partners credit their work ethic and commitment to the brand for their success, along with the relationship they have with their franchisor partners. “Our communication with our franchisor partners in the development of the brand has helped streamline the company, and we have been an integral part of growing the concept from the ground up.”
Knowing the franchisor is just one tip Ewing and Joiner have for anyone who wants to become a franchisee. “Do your due diligence, and get legal representation and a good accountant.” They add that looking for a brand that wants to expand is important, but the most critical thing? “Location, location, location!”