Young McAlister’s Deli Franchisee Finds Passion in Restaurant Ownership | Franchise News


McAlister’s Deli is a sandwich shop under the Focus Brands umbrella.

McAlister’s Deli franchisee Taral Patel has learned patience is key when it comes to opening a restaurant. “I did get a little anxious at times because when I started this, I was 19, so I was very impatient,” Patel said. “And I still am.”

Patel, now 21, is pursuing his master’s degree in finance and comes from a family of Wyndham Hotel Group and Choice Hotels International operators. Patel’s first McAlister’s store opened in London, Kentucky, in February.

“We’re really fortunate to have that kind of support from the London community,” he said of the strong debut. “We were actually not expecting that kind of opening.”


Taral Patel

Patel was born in India and grew up in Canada before his family moved to the United States in 2017. Toward the end of his college career, he helped his family’s business with a hotel merger and then met an associate who introduced him to the McAlister’s brand.

McAlister’s Deli is one of seven brands under the Focus Brands portfolio, including Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Carvel, Jamba and Schlotzsky’s. Last year, Focus Brands announced an initiative to have half of its revenue come from ecommerce and loyalty platforms in the next five years.

In 2022, average net sales were just shy of $2 million, ranging from $540,281 to $5 million across 431 of McAlister’s franchised stores, according to the brand’s Item 19. In the same year, McAlister’s opened 20 new stores.

Related: Focus Brands Drives Development Through Co-branding

Patel said his experience assisting with his family’s hotel business helped prepare him for his dive into franchising.

“I kind of learned from their dealings,” he said. “Then as I went on, I did my due diligence online and spoke to people who have done this before.”

Patel has already signed his second franchise agreement, with plans to add more stores. For now, the plan is to open one a time because of his family’s focus in the hotel space. “That’s been our family business for a third generation, now,” he said.

With McAlister’s, he noted the ease of operations versus other restaurants was attractive. “The hassle is very minimal,” he said. “There’s no fryers, grill. So, that’s a big win for your team as well, because fryers and grills don’t make for a very fun working kitchen.”

His best advice to other budding franchisees is to find a passion to pursue. “When you’re passionate about something, it will drive you, no matter what obstacles or roadblocks you encounter,” he said. “You’re always going to have a willpower to fight that.”

Even with the hurdles that come with opening a restaurant, especially in a post-pandemic world, “I never had a second thought about doing McAlister’s or opening the first store,” Patel said. “I was always adamant about the brand and the overall business model.”

Related: CapitalSpring Buys Into McAlister’s Operator Southern Rock Restaurants

The initial investment required to open a McAlister’s Deli franchise ranges from $921,450 to $2.3 million for a traditional store, and from $436,850 to $898,050 for an express store.

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