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BurritoBar in Howell, MI with Shawn Saraga

Shawn Saraga Headshot
Episode #: 105
BurritoBar in Howell, MI with Shawn Saraga

Guest: Shawn Saraga
Topics: BurritoBar, business expansion


Chris Ressa 0:01
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.

Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I’m joined by Sean sarabah. Sean is the Vice President of Business Development for Farber Rico, a Canadian Mexican eatery. He has been in the franchise development business for 17 years. I’m excited for him to share his story. Welcome to the show, Sean.

Shawn Saraga 0:40
Thanks. Because Am I really the first Canadian brand we’ve had on the show? First Canadian brand? Wow.

Ressa 0:47
It’s a big deal.

Saraga 0:48

Ressa 0:49
Sean, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about who you are? Your history and who bar burrito is and what bar burrito does, sir.

Saraga 0:57
So I’ve been in the franchise, industry and real estate industry now. for about 17 years, 17 to 18 years, started out doing franchise consulting work. And early on in my career, we had a challenge where the franchisee wasn’t able to find a location. So I went to the president of the company that I was consulting for at the time and said, all find the location and he said, They’ll show you the license for that. And I said, you know, the day the deals done, I’ll have my license, don’t worry.

I went out and I hustled and I got my license and found the location and negotiated the lease, and put two and two together and got a good commission from the franchisor. And then the landlord sent me a good commission as well. And I looked around, shook my head that nobody else was doing this and started combining franchise and new real estate services under one roof. I ran my own consulting company for about 16 years. And it was a national consulting company did a lot of international deals as well, at the same time, took a stand as as acting in the retail department for Cushman and Wakefield for Canada, and also was senior vice president for launching SRS in Canada and brought those brands into the country and really helped grow them. And you know, during that time, I’ve worked with a number of franchises over the years, and have conducted over 700 franchise and real estate transactions, majority of them being in Canada, with a number of them now in the US and with even more growth happening in the US through the My latest iteration with harbor evil restaurant. So about two years ago, I started working with the founder and president of Barbado restaurants, Alex shine on consulting for him on a few franchise agreements and some real estate sites, specifically in the Ottawa area. And we had some good success and seemed to enjoy working with each other. And I take an annual look at my business every year looking at the numbers and was getting a little frustrated with my lack of growth is I was always the asset for my business and scaling. It wasn’t really taking, no matter which way I would try and came to the conclusion back in December of last year. Maybe it was time to take a role as an employee with within a large organization and went to Alex first actually, with the opportunity. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out well for us. Because as you know, the COVID pandemic hit in March, and everything got shut down. Around that time I went back to Alex, I think it was around May. And I asked him you know, let me do all of your franchising for you on a commission only basis. And we’ll figure out what what works. And if you like what I do, then we can talk about me coming on board full time. And he agreed to it. And on June 24. I became an employee for the first time in my career working with Alex and Barbuda, restaurants, and we’ve been having a pretty solid run. I’ll tell you what, what impressed me most was when Alex told me what he’d been doing first franchisees during COVID and that really set things apart. He’d always had a lot of integrity as a business person and put his franchisees first and made sure that they were profitable, which is unique. Unfortunately, it’s unique. Amongst the majority of franchisors out there. A lot of franchisors want their franchisees just to make enough money that they don’t sue them at the end of the day. We’re in Alex’s goal was really to make his franchisees enough money that each of them can buy five to 10 stores. And that model is really worked very well for him. Wow.

Ressa 4:52
That’s a lot to unpack right there. That’s amazing story. Thanks. Let’s start before I unpack it. Let’s start with that. Tell us more now about barber Rita. What is barber Rita?

Saraga 5:02
Sure. So far Rico is a it’s a Mexican food franchise. It is licensed during Canada, we know that licensing isn’t as easy to obtain in the States. And we’re doing that on a state by state basis, county by county depending on the rules down there. But we are up here we are licensed to serve bottled beer. We’re about 1000 to 1300 square feet of space. And the franchise was started by Alex in 2006. In 2009, Alex started to franchise the business and from 2009 Till today, we’ve opened up 132 restaurants in North America, we have another 50 and under construction right now, we have over 80 franchisees getting ready to open more stores. So our growth has been explosive.

Ressa 5:50
Wow. So let’s let’s unpack that real quick. 132 stores today 15 under construction, that’s 40 that’s 147 80 franchisees in the pipeline ready to do business.

Saraga 6:01
And that makes us the largest franchise in Mexican food in in Canada today.

Ressa 6:06
Good for you guys.

Saraga 6:07
We have been the most successful at getting Chipotle, the the best one for their money. There was a larger chain up here mucho burrito, we have now that we’re now eclipsing, and starting to overcome their numbers. And I believe that’s because of the profitability of the model that we built there that Alex has built, and the success that we’ve seen with it. Kudos to you all a little bit about Alex during COVID. Also, you know that when the pandemic hit up here in Canada, we our country went into lockdown, without exception. And immediately Alex did the one thing that no other franchise were in North America did. And that was weighing 100% of royalties to all stores. Everybody else even diverter reduce. Alex made 100% of royalties, not for a short period of time for traditional stores was for nine weeks, and for non traditional food court locations 22 weeks giving up about a million dollars in revenue. In addition to that he set aside a quarter million dollars in his own cash as relief fund to help support our most vulnerable stores. And then we got on the phone with landlords across the country directly because we had to head lease in every situation. We renegotiated the rents deferred the rents were possible got whatever subsidies were applicable, and supported our franchisees and were successful in 99% of the cases. Congratulations, we got on the phone with corporations across the country, and got them to sponsor burritos and bowls that were being sent out to frontline health care workers, and hospital staff who said that over $70,000 worth of food during April in May of last year. And then lastly, we got on the phone with UberEATS and skipping DoorDash. And all the delivery actually reduced the rates and boosted the marketing. And as a result to April, May and June, the sales were flat, we saw no decrease at all. In fact, in the summer and fall, our sales were up 10 to 15%. Now our top grossing store does $2 million a year. Our lowest performers are at zero because you start from stores close due to COVID. An average store sales are between 600 to $650,000 a year.

Ressa 8:22
In 1000 feet. That’s pretty strong. Yeah. unbelievable story. And stay tuned because one of the reasons we connected is you guys are now making a push into the United States to open stores in the US and excited to learn more about that. And I think the audience will be as well. But first, I want to get to know Sean a little bit more and go to our segment called Clear the air. So I’ve got three questions for you. Are you ready, Sean? What is one thing most people agree with? But you do not

Saraga 8:55
that everything happens for a reason? Ah, okay. Yeah, I don’t think that’s true at all. And why that’s a great one. Yeah, just likes to random man. Like we all we all influence our worlds. And I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I think things happen because people set things in motion to happen.

Ressa 9:18
I really, really liked that answer. Okay. Question two. What skill Do you not possess but you wish you did?

Saraga 9:29
multilingualism I wish I could speak other languages fluently. I’d actually like to take that off this summer as in start learning some new languages, especially as we expand into the US. I think learning Spanish is going to be an important part of our growth. And being up in Canada. Knowing French is important too. And it’s just the one skill I never picked up. Sam,

Ressa 9:49
it’s more than that. That’s been on my bucket list for a while. never seem to dedicate the time or commit to it. Last question. When’s the last time you tried something for the first time Sean

Saraga 10:01
Every time I visit a restaurant, I always order the one thing on the menu I’ve never tried before.

Ressa 10:05
Oh, I love that. That’s great. So, my my children, we try to make sure that we’re kind of we’re exposing them to all different types of foods. So I love that they do get Mac, and she’s more than I would like to give them. However, we tried to expose them to different types of food all the time, my kids have become a fan of sushi. And they have they’re not picky eaters, which is great. But I love that answer.

Saraga 10:31
I do the same thing with my daughters, when they were younger, I drive them I tell them, you get $2 very tiny. When it cost me about $400, before I cut it off.

Ressa 10:44
That’s great. Well, thank you for sharing a little bit more about you and who you are. That was great. Let’s go back to a bunch of things that you talked about in the beginning. One, you are now an employee, how has that transition been from owning your own business 1099 to now being an employee, tell us about that transition?

Saraga 11:06
I gotta say it, it definitely was challenging at the beginning, I’m replacing the job that the president of the company has always done. And he’s probably the he is by far the smartest person, or the smartest business person I think I’ve ever worked for. And I’ve worked for hundreds as a consultant, the man is laser focused on every aspect of his business. And knows every angle of what goes on at every given time, taking over his job from him, was definitely challenging it was there was a transition period that we’re still going through to some extent, but I think we’re now in a really good place where where we respect each other and understand what each other brings to the table and know how to use each other to get to the result that we’re trying to achieve. It’s also been extremely challenging, because, you know, up here in Canada, we’re very much encouraged not to go to the office. And you know, given the my job can be done, to certain extent remotely, I’m only in the office one Friday on one every, every Friday afternoon for a two hour meeting with the President. And other than that, I’m sitting at home, in working remotely, which and I’m averaging about 15 to 16 Zoom meetings a day between landlords and franchisees, and I got to see my eyes bug bug out of my head, sometimes it drives me a little crazy,

Ressa 12:36
I understand, you know, I

Saraga 12:37
will say I can’t wait for the office to reopen. And to get back in there. I feel like I’ve really missed out on a lot of the culture that you can build by being around people. And I think that while we’re going really strong now, I can’t imagine how much stronger we’ll be when we’re actually in person with each other. It’s a great point. There’s a lot

Ressa 12:59
of headline news surrounding this remote work forever. And I think people are under estimating the value of the human connection, there is no doubt that there are significant amount of knowledge worker jobs that can be done from anywhere always could be. I think the question comes should they be? What is the power of the team and being in person and the culture of the organizations? And I think, I think, you know, in the beginning, there’s going to be a lot of people who want to work remotely, but I think you are going to see that the best teams long term, spend time together, there’s always going to be now I think, some portion of remote work, but I think you will see that the best teams in the business world spend time together in some way, shape, or form in person.

Saraga 13:54
I think that, you know, after all this is done. And once those vaccines are in wide distribution, people are just dying to be with other people. Yeah, that’s being at the office or at a bar, as long as you’re getting people on your four walls and and radrat kids 24/7 I think there’s gonna be a party in the streets by the time that some of our ball rolls around.

Ressa 14:19
We will say, Okay, what percentage you have an interesting role, what percentage of your time do you think, are you spending recruiting new franchisees versus working on the real estate side?

Saraga 14:31
So right now, we have a great real estate team up here in Canada and the Vice President of real estate up here that I worked very closely with. And, you know, he does a tremendous job. We have a team of 16 brokers up here that we work with, for the US. I’m handling all of that directly and managing that and Alex is working with me and supporting that. So I’d say right now, about 20 5% is real estate and 75% is franchising. But that’s 25% of real estate early, you know, looking at the sites that needs to be approved, and vetting them and making some really strong influence decisions. We won’t compromise on vacations. For us location is everything, it’s the most important thing. We will never compromise on location, we’d rather wait for the right location to open up and make a bad decision. Sure,

Ressa 15:27
understood. I’m in real estate. So I get that for sure. We talk about it a lot on the show. So I understand the need for great locations.

Saraga 15:38
And for us, we’re looking for 1000 to 1500 square feet of space. We’re looking for grocery and food shopping centers, Walmart, Target and Costco style power centers. We’re looking for lots of parking, lots of visibility, lots of street traffic, we do extremely well in small towns, anything, you know, populations of 15 to 50,000 do really well for us, because we become the dominant player in town, the only player in town and a lot of cases. And it really and runs and blocks competition from coming into the market. We opened a store out recently in Nanaimo BC. And that store is doing rocking it at $2 million a year for the population of 60,000. Incredible.

Ressa 16:23
So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I think what a lot of people are wondering, you have 132 locations primarily in Canada, you’re making a push to the US which some would say, Chipotle Mo’s Q doba. And then a bunch of regional brands, this segment has a lot of competition. Why do you think you guys can be successful in the United States? And there’s been a lot of and I’m going to add to that there has been a significant amount of Canadian brands that have tried to come to us and haven’t done really well.

Saraga 16:57
You’re 100% right about that. And, you know, I gotta tell ya, having been in the industry for as long as I’ve been, I’ve worked with a lot of those things. And I’ve seen what they’ve done wrong. A lot of these brands, what they do when they enter the United States, is they find these big players that are in 1000 to 3000 restaurants. They ask them to pick them up as a flag for one of the banners and they hope they can they sign for, let’s say 20 stores to open and coming from Canada. They think that’s great news. And that’s exciting. And that’s going to grow the brand. And they wind up being you know, the the ugly stepchild and not really getting the love and attention that they deserve. The other model that’s typically used by Canadians entering the states is they master off state by state. And when you master off state, by state, you’re not really replicating what it takes for a brand to be successful. You know, we’ve made what makes Margarita work is the owner operator model, and having local or operators that can build the stores. In Canada right now, 40% of our franchisees are multi unit owners, and in the States, all of our franchisees will be multi 100 owners because down there in the states we are going with three store deals at a time. So right now we are looking for space in Fresno. We’re looking for space in Rancho Cucamonga. We’re looking for space in Chicago. We’re in Florida. We’re looking for more space in Michigan where we already have our first franchisee there. In fact, our first franchisee in the States, sonny, the master franchisee permission that we saw the ability to open more stores there. i He came to us through a family member who was and continues to be a multi unit franchisee in Barbados and Saskatchewan. I took about five months to do the deal, mostly due to legal reviews of franchise documents. And it took about two years to finalize the first location. We had several last minute misses on other locations. We thought we secured but the deal fell apart in the last minute. Most recently a location your event to secure Reiki for COVID in March 2020 is one that we did. And then we opened in August of 2020. We opened right in the thick of the pandemic. And we’ve been doing a solid $12,000 a week since opening there. So we’re doing we’re averaging 600 to $650,000 a year there. We currently have Farmington Hills under negotiation. And we got an offer on a site made in Canton, Michigan. And we’re growing very quickly using that model. He has built a really successful beachhead for us in Michigan, which is allowing us to leverage more areas like Detroit, Chicago, and the surrounding suburbs of those areas. And that’s why we’re hitting those markets.

Ressa 19:44
And I think this is a key the owner operator model. I think one that comes to mind when I think of this in the United States is Chick fil A, you know the fact that the owner of the location works in the location and if you go to any Chick fil A In the United States today, the one that’s most local to me. So the lines are insane. People are craving this people love it. They love the brand. They love the food, they love the service. And I think a lot has to do with the owner operator model in this and it’s a bit of a secret.

Saraga 20:18
The owner operator model is what made McDonald’s successful. Chick fil A successful, it’s no secret. The challenge is, you know, you get franchisors that want to grow so quickly and lose sight of what got them to where they were today. They forget the recipe for success. And they think that you know, we can grow with doing a 500 score deal right out of the gate. Well, 500 store deal is gonna wind up in five, which is closed doors doesn’t win anybody anything. The owner operator model is works. It’s the basic model for franchising.

Ressa 20:51
Yeah. And, and to clear the air for some of the listeners who might not understand the difference. When we say owner operator model we’re talking about the owner owns it. And they actually operate the stores versus some company that buys 500 and makes a 500 store deal. And that owner is not really running the stores. It’s this company, behemoth that’s behind it correct.

Saraga 21:16
Nailed. That is that is the absolute difference. You know, right now we have franchisees going online store in our chain, you know, out of 132 stores. Alex’s vision was never to have 1000, franchisees and 1000 stores who has to have a couple 100 franchisees on five to 10 stores each.

Ressa 21:37
Yeah, and that way that owner operator can actually get their hands on all the stores versus if that one franchisee had 1000. They couldn’t do that.

Ressa 21:46
Exactly. The challenge with that

Ressa 21:50
model is the first piece which is a lot of these franchises, they want to grow quickly. And this is more of a grassroots effort, because you need a lot of franchisees to grow a small amount of stores instead of three franchisees take down 200 each.

Saraga 22:06
No, it’s amazing is if COVID Hasn’t mixed blessing, it’s zoom, and within has allowed for the growth of, you know, before COVID, I could handle maybe five, six meetings in a day. Now, I’m able to have 14 to 16 meetings in a day, back to back every half an hour. Before COVID, I would have to fly down to Chicago to do a trade show to be able to get leads. Now I can run a webinar and advertise on Facebook, and walk out with double the leads that I would have had going to the trade show in Chicago. So volume has changed dramatically. That’s interesting. It’s just exponential growth right now. You know, and if you know how to capitalize on it, and you know, I’ve developed some pretty good systems along with Alex’s support that make a lot of sense and allow us to grow very quickly. So we’re actually hitting up, you know, we’re hitting up two states every other week, and walking away with anywhere from 100 to 150 Interested candidates that will narrow down to maybe three or four deals that will actually happen in those marketplaces

Ressa 23:19
that, like you said, explosive growth, even on a grassroots effort. Kudos to you all. What I’d like to do next is can you explain to the audience the difference what separates bar burrito from the other brands that I mentioned in the United States? Tell us a little bit more about bar burrito and

Saraga 23:41
the concept. So you know, we focus on more than just the traditional Mexican eatery. Although burritos are more in our name and there are a mainstay burritos only make up about 40% of our sales bowls. Bowls make up about another 40% of our sales and the other 20% are made up of a mix of tacos case of vegans, soft drinks and beer and french fries. We offer more proteins than any of our competitors and more healthy options than any of our competitors. Our food is made fresh daily. In fact, it’s made fresh twice daily. Our food is we have the highest Yelp reviews in our category. We were perfectly priced in that $10 meal category was our average guests check coming in at $12.18. And you know the customers that visit us for loyal Plus, they follow us and you know we’re not we’re not a lot of flash. We’re not a lot of a lot of we’re not a lot of height. We’re good value for good food, and it’s really tasty food. The food is second to none. It’s delicious. And as far as the value goes we offer great value for the dollar. We appeal very strong to the younger demographic, to the millennials 100% We appeal Little to the collar workers, we appeal to families. And we’re offering in that price category a great meal value, and a healthy meal option that a lot of people are looking for these days that they can’t necessarily find in, in the traditional fast food market. So it’s good food made fast.

Ressa 25:20
Let’s talk about value per second, what is the average check? Average check is $12.80. And to give everyone context, what’s the average check of a Chipotle?

Saraga 25:30
I believe they’re around $17.

Ressa 25:32
Okay, so you’re definitely providing significant value there. healthy options, many options, and a family affordable for family, blue collar worker, middle class. Very interesting.

Saraga 25:47
Yeah. And we are, you know, the one brand that has really been able to get into Chipotle a run for their money up here in Canada, and the previously well established chain that we’re about to eclipse, we’ve given them a heck of a run to in their case, though, I think it was a matter of, they did not have the same support from their franchise, or as what we offer to our franchisees, you know, I think you’re gonna find over the next few years, the brands that really survive and thrive through COVID are the ones where franchisor stepped up and took good care of their franchisees through COVID. Help them and support them and didn’t try to lead them dry.

Ressa 26:28
Drop the mic moment. Totally agree. Well, that was really great. What else if anything, do you want to leave the listeners with about Barbara Rita,

Saraga 26:38
you know, send me sites looking for sites and looking for sites across the country, nothing sells a franchise quite like a great location. So if you’ve got a great location in the market, we are working with the National broker network for franchise recruitment. We’re at talks with a couple of real estate firms and they’re having my connections with SRS and Cushman and Wakefield. I’ve got some good relationships there. But you know, I’m always looking for great sites, we aren’t exclusive Penny brokers, if you’re a landlord reps, and you’ve got if you’re a tenant reps on what you’ve got, and let’s let’s talk and see what we can do to make some deals happen. Because we fit into every market, every demographic, there isn’t a place in the country, in either of our countries that people don’t like Mexican food, and are going to gravitate to our offering.

Ressa 27:26
There you go, everybody, send Shawn some sites. All right. Let’s pivot to the next part. I want everyone to know a story about a location that opened up. So where are we going, Sean?

Saraga 27:38
So we’re going to Michigan. And I did talk a little bit about Sunny. And I think Michigan is relevant because that’s where we’re, that’s a good us location. And that really is where your audience is going to be able to relate. So you know, our location in Michigan has had a really strong opening, it was a great example of referral coming into us from a franchisee in our system here in Canada. I gotta tell you, a lot of our franchisees in Canada have relatives in the States and are looking to constantly refer us franchisees down there. So we’re constantly growing, our first location is opened up in Cal Michigan, and which is deployed. Now in the US. Our name is actually not bar Rio, it’s actually burrito bar, we had to change the name because of copyright issues. So our US name is burrito bar, not bar burrito, and we I believe in certain states will still be able to use bar burrito, but we might go with burrito bar for the whole country just for consistency. Again, it took about five months to finalize the franchise agreement with Sonny but now that he’s paved the way, it’s a lot easier and faster to do it for more franchisees as they’re coming on board. Our Fresno group is it took that a few weeks. So things are moving much quicker now. And here you do your first deal. Everything happens a lot faster isn’t doing your second and third. We will take our time though, finding that location and Sonny’s really happy with the sales and about $4,000 a week and is getting ready to open to more stores in the Detroit area now Farmington Hills in Canton, and I believe he wants to finish himself off at around seven stores in the greater Detroit area.

Ressa 29:24
So let’s unpack this a little bit. You were introduced to Sonny the franchisee for the high location from a existing franchisee in the system. Question Do you give referral fees?

Saraga 29:40
Yes, we do pay referral fees to our existing franchisees and referral fees to brokers. So if a broker is listening and they have a space for lease and they’ve gotten calls from people saying, you know I really liked your space, but I’m not sure what concept to put in. haven’t called me and we will happily pay you a referral fee. We love to write those checks.

Ressa 30:00
Interesting. So franchisee in Canada prefers sunny to you, you meet with Sunny. Tell us about how that goes you get what Sunny is tell us about Sunday’s background is he a? Does he own restaurants what is Sunday’s background?

Saraga 30:16
No Sunday didn’t have a ton of restaurant experience. He had some, you worked in some restaurants before. So really, he was coming to us based on the reference of our existing franchisee in Saskatchewan, and had a lot of faith in us because of what he saw happening and had a lot of faith in Alex and Alex’s ability to support a franchise. You know, at the end of the day, I think great companies are built, because they have great leaders, you know, whether it was Jack Welch, Howard Schultz, you name it. Those leaders are what defines how many people put their trust and faith into the company and are willing to work for it. You know, that’s one of the reasons why I stepped up here. That’s why Sonny stepped up. And that’s why franchisees joining the chain because they see leadership that supports franchisees and are willing to make sure that they’re going to be successful no matter what.

Ressa 31:05
That’s so true spot on. You meet Sonny, you guys start talking? And how long does it take to get to a deal with Sonny, the franchise deal

Saraga 31:17
takes about five months to get to the deal because of the legal reviews and franchise documents. And we were also preparing our documents with us for the first time. So that itself took us about a month and a half to two months up here to make sure our documents prepared properly for the state of Michigan. And then it so took us two months to prepare the documents and then about three months to finalize them with Sonny. So now that you’ve

Ressa 31:40
finalized the documents, you go on a hunt for a location. How did you decide on how did Sonny decide on how did you guys as a franchisor decide this might be an interesting market? How do you end up in half.

Saraga 31:53
So Alex did probably a dozen drives down to the Detroit area. Two years looking at sites. You know, we had secured about four locations that we thought were right, that fell through for one reason or another before we settled on how and once we found how it was it was it was the right fit. It was the right site, it was the right size, it replicated a lot of our successful markets that we’re in right now in Canada, the demographics were very much the same population was very similar. You know, the makeup of people, the anchor of the location, the similar, the street traffic counts, all of that really added up to replicate what works up here in Canada. And you know, to be able to do $12,000 So we can sales out of that locations 1100 square feet, you know, that’s a pretty solid return. And the way that we set up our economic model, you know, Sonny’s going to be able to buy at least two more stores just based on the success of his one mile.

Ressa 32:57
So you land on this location. And tell us about the location is there. You said there’s an anchor, what type of shopping center is it?

Saraga 33:06
So we’re right next to a VCs grocery or VGS grocery, got to McDonald’s down the streets. You know, we’ve got a lot going on, right on West Grand River Road, which is the main street in town keeps us in, we’ve got some hotels in the area, we’ve got a good mix of commercial in the area. Also, the county jail is around the corner, the sheriff’s offices, they’re right on that corner. And that and we’re surrounded by residential to the east of us, which allows us to really serve as that area the area is divided by a river that runs through the runs through the street that runs under Grand River West Grand River Road. And that divides the that puts us right on the intersection on the intersection of state and Maine where we got to one side, nothing but commercial and industrial. And on the other side, nothing but new residential and schools.

Ressa 34:04
Fantastic. Sounds like a home run. This opened in August of 2020. So in the midst of a global pandemic, yeah. What was that like for you opening one of your first stores in the States? And what was that like for Sonny? In the middle of a pandemic, you guys are saying we’re gonna get through this. Let’s open the doors

Saraga 34:22
to fill so by August, we had a clear line of sight that our sales hadn’t gone down, but we’re actually going up. So we had competence in our performance up here. In Canada, we weren’t sure what to expect in the States. I’ll tell you that the hardest part was actually getting our training team over the border. Because the border was closed in August. We had to get we had to get a number of letters and permissions to allow for two of our trainers in our head our VP of real our VP of construction to head down and supervise the finishing off the construction and make sure everything was done and they had to quarantine when they went through of ways. So we last 30 days on each one of those people that had to cross the border. And at the time, we were very nervous about the numbers. And that, you know, we get CNN up here and Fox News and, you know, we get some crazy reports that are, you know, blowing things a little out of proportion, I think sometimes, to what you what the experience is. So, the staff were nervous to head down, but they did head down, they opened the store, they did a really successfully, it was challenging. And I would say that, you know, without takeout and delivery, it would have wouldn’t have been nearly as strong of an opening. takeout and delivery has really been a savior for us during the pandemic of our $12,000. We can sales, take care and deliveries currently making up about $5,000 a week of that.

Ressa 35:50
So almost 50% is takeout and delivery. Yeah. The good news is people are still coming in and sitting down and eating a burrito boss. Yeah. Great to hear. Excellent story. Thank you for sharing. I want to take us to the last part of the show called retail wisdom. I’ve got three questions for you. You ready? Shawn? Ready. All right. Question one. What extinct retailer? Do you wish you’d come back from the dead?

Saraga 36:15
The only one that I can think of that would be relevant to you guys would be blockbuster.

Ressa 36:20
Oh, man. You know, there’s a new Netflix show the last thought that you know about the last blockbuster and the whole story of blockbuster.

Saraga 36:26
And I’m a big Kevin Smith fan. But I haven’t watched that yet. You got to check it out. Is it good?

Ressa 36:31
It’s really well done. Yeah.

Saraga 36:34
I do miss Saturday nights of blockbuster. Yeah. And that was fun. That was fun.

Ressa 36:38
Okay, question to know. What’s the last thing you bought over $20 in a store?

Saraga 36:46
I just moved houses just bought two couches and the dining room set. Ashley’s

Ressa 36:52
doing well, a DLC tenant? Yeah. Okay, last question. And we went over this one specifically because I had a question about it. So if you and I were shopping at Costco most people know I normally say target. But if you and I were shopping at Costco, and I lost you what I would I find you in

Saraga 37:14
probably the produce aisle because I love to go.

Ressa 37:17
I’m coming over for dinner. What are you cooking?

Saraga 37:19
A delicious steak man or my famous sesame press? Did he say that? All right. Yeah, I might hold you to that next time. I’m in Toronto. Toronto you can buy now maybe you can get barbecue. All right.

Ressa 37:33
Well, listen, Shawn, this was great. Thank you so much. I’m excited for this. Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode

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