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Cashing in on the burger business

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Bill Church, president of Mr. Dan’s Franchising LLC, and Allan Zukerman, chairman of Mr. Dan’s Franchising LLC, are offering a Mr. Dan’s Hamburgers business model to allow minorities to become business owners. Church is convinced that this is an exciting opportunity for minority entrepreneurs.

“Mr. Dan’s business model allows potential entrepreneurs to become business owners,” said Church. “They can go into former restaurant buildings that have lower costs because many of them already have the necessary plumbing and electrical equipment.”

Costs for someone to get a franchise would be $12,500 and to open a restaurant would be about $120,000 more.

The well-known restaurant chain that specializes in “The Big Dan,” a made-to-order burger, and Nathan’s-brand of hot dogs, as well as other food items, is being franchised nationally through Mr. Dan’s Franchising LLC.

The restaurant chain is providing neighborhoods the opportunity for economic growth, jobs and stability through sound business practices.

Mr. Dan’s has had its most success in urban neighborhoods. The ideal sites are the “B” real estate locations that have formerly housed a restaurant. This lowers construction costs and offers a better chance of a fast return on investment. It has also been found that the “Big Boys” of fast food chains are less likely to be found in these markets, thus reducing “like product” competition.

There has been a lot of interest in the restaurant chain from the minority community, according to Church.

“It’s a good way for people in urban neighborhoods to give back to the communities and it provides jobs,” he said. “We have had a lot of people making inquiries. The biggest element I want to stress is that it’s affordable and the potential for profitability is high.” Church noted that Mr. Dan’s business owners can also refurbish run-down properties in their community.

Rickie Clark Sr., vice president and founder of the Indiana Minority Business Magazine, said, “(Mr. Dan’s) is a good fit for minority owners and franchisees. It’s breathing new life into neighborhoods and giving people an affordable option to own a business. The franchises can be owned by one person or a group of people. Churches can also look for group opportunities.”

Church, the franchising president, noted the franchises are open 24 hours a day, six days a week, and closed on Sundays, which is typical for Mr. Dan’s. Company officials have identified potential locations for more Mr. Dan’s.

“We have a list that has evolved,” Church said. “There are several locations in Indianapolis that are natural for Mr. Dan’s. It’s a low cost investment that in the big picture will mean a lot to people in the communities.”

A new Mr. Dan’s franchise is already scheduled to be opened at 1526 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis. “It’s a strong location,” Church said. “It’s located a half-mile west of the zoo. D & M Foods is leasing it and the restaurant is targeted to open during the first week of November,” added Church. Two other Mr. Dan’s locations are currently in operation: one at 4390 N. Keystone Ave., just north of Fall Creek Parkway, and another at 34th Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

Many people in Indianapolis remember the well-known restaurant chain.

“A lot of people have special memories of Mr. Dan’s,” Zukerman said. “It’s a familiar name to many people who grew up in Indianapolis.”

The first Mr. Dan’s was opened in 1950 by Richard Hogshire, the founder of Mr. Dan’s, at the corner of 14th and Illinois streets in Indianapolis. The original name, Gay Dan’s, came from the Gay Nineties-era and adopted the circus wagon look for a Gay 90s’ hot dog stand. The name was changed in the 1970s to Mr. Dan’s.

“We are in negotiations to potentially open three more here in Indianapolis,” Church said. “We would then like to open additional restaurants in the Midwest, first in Indianapolis, and from there Detroit, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Dayton. And then we would hopefully go national.”

Mr. Dan’s first location was built in downtown Indianapolis, and the restaurant is themed after the hot dog stands of the era. Its original menu consisted of hot dogs, baked beans and coffee. The restaurant’s popular “Big Dan” was introduced in the mid 1950s. The restaurant has evolved over time to offer breakfast and began serving 24 hours a day in the early 1970s.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Dan’s refined its menu and operations to better meet the demands of many loyal customers. While improvements over the decades have better positioned Mr. Dan’s in the marketplace, The “Big Dan” has remained just the way it was back in the mid-1950s.

The number of Mr. Dan’s Restaurants is growing by offering a sound, tried and true business model that provides other entrepreneurs with an opportunity for success. Mr. Dan’s Franchising LLC is developing selected markets by franchising the restaurant’s concept and business trade name.

Mr. Dan’s Franchising LLC is looking forward to providing neighborhoods the opportunity for economic growth, jobs and stability through sound business practices by new franchise owners.

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