Tommy Up, corporate mogul?
The entrepreneur - who parlayed his penchant for party promotion into the Northern Liberties bar PYT - just inked a franchising deal with Dan Rowe of Fransmart, who helped put Five Guys and Qdoba on the world map.
Imagine several hundred PYTs in U.S. airports, malls and cities, Rowe says.
Rowe has a good client in Up. Less than a day after Up shared word of the signing on social media, Rowe told me that he had fielded at least two dozen notes from people interested in buying in. Rowe now has to create the legal documents and hopes to begin awarding franchises this summer with target openings next year.
Philly also will have new, company-owned PYTs, whose specialties are outrageously topped burgers and adult shakes in its energetic spot in the Piazza at Schmidt's. (Up, who owns the adjacent bar Emmanuel, also is working on a tiki bar called The Yachtsman, to open in April at 1444 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown.)
Up said he began creating PYT five years ago with franchising in mind. "But how do keep our quirky bar experience and inject it into a corporate culture?" he thought.
Rowe found PYT through an appearance on the Food Network.
"I saw what looked like a pretty outrageous burger," Rowe said. He began following PYT on social media. "And every week, something interesting was happening with that brand."
After meeting and reviewing financials, Rowe said he realized that PYT was generating per-foot sales on par with Five Guys - "and he's not in a good location."
"The trick is we have to be careful of losing that edge as we grow," Rowe said, adding that Up would maintain creative control. "We have to maintain the DNA."