Toledo’s Barry Bagels is headed back to Columbus.
The Toledo-area bagel restaurant chain, co-owned by local businessman Barry Greenblatt and his son, Mark, has formed a new franchising operation to expand the business into new markets.
Two weeks ago the operation signed its first franchisee, a group of private investors in Columbus who plan to open five stores over the next few years in the Ohio capital city, beginning with a store this year to be located somewhere in the city’s northwest quadrant.
“We’ve been working in earnest on [a franchising operation] for about nine months. ... We were finally ready by late November, and we’ve been kind of looking for franchisees since that time,” said Jim Nusbaum, chief executive officer of the new JMB Restaurant Holdings LLC, which will do business as Barry Bagels Franchise Holding.
“We finally signed a deal March 14” with the Columbus group, Mr. Nusbaum said.
This isn’t Barry Bagels’ first venture into Columbus. The company opened a store on North High Street in 2001, but it closed in 2003.
Mr. Nusbaum is a lawyer and president of the Sylvania Board of Education. But as a high school student in 1985, his first job was making bagels at a Barry Bagels restaurant on Holland-Sylvania Road at Sylvania Avenue.
“This is sort of a circle of life thing for me,” Mr. Nusbaum said.
As a friend of the Greenblatts, Mr. Nusbaum and Mark Greenblatt began conversations in 2013 about turning Barry Bagels into a franchising operation. Since 1972, when the elder Mr. Greenblatt and a partner, Peter Johnson, set up the first store in Sylvania (then called The Bagel Place), all Barry Bagels stores have been company-owned.
The company currently has four Toledo-area stores and a store in Ann Arbor. It also plans to open a store in April on Sterns Road in Lambertville that will be owned jointly by the Greenblatts and Mr. Nusbaum.
Barry Greenblatt said his son and Mr. Nusbaum were able to convince him last year that franchising was a viable way to expand.
“I took a while to build the brand, and my son helped develop it. But with Jimmy, he’s the vehicle to go out of town. We feel we have a wonderful reputation, but we weren’t going to take it much farther than Cleveland, where we have a bunch of relatives,” Mr. Greenblatt said.
“But Jimmy — he’s young, he’s energetic, and I know he can make this happen,” Mr. Greenblatt said.
Mr. Nusbaum said as head of the new franchising operation, he already is in discussions with potential franchisees in several markets. The goal, he said, is to develop franchises in Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Findlay, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, Ind.
“We want two things,” Mr. Nusbaum said. “To be very comfortable with the franchisees. And second, we want to not outrun our brand. That is, we want to move in circles and move outward from here.”
He said when the company posted a note on its Facebook page that it had signed a deal with a Columbus franchisee, comments came in from several Ohio cities asking that the company expand there too. “That was good to see and made us think we’re on the right track,” Mr. Nusbaum said.
The new Lambertville store will be used to help kick start the franchise operation.
The store is more modern-looking and streamlined than any of the five existing Barry Bagels stores. Mr. Nusbaum said that is deliberate.
“We built it as a template for future franchise stores. It’s more updated and it has a layout that a franchisee can depend on that that is how their stores will look,” Mr. Nusbaum said.
“It is designed it to be a training ground for future franchisees,” he added.
Mr. Nusbaum said each franchisee will be taught the Barry Bagels method of baking, although it’s likely the bagel dough will be supplied by the company’s Toledo operation. Other products may or may not be supplied by the Toledo operation.
“We’re still working on the mechanics of what will be shipped or not shipped,” Mr. Nusbaum said. “But everything you can get at a Barry Bagels in Toledo you will be able to get at a franchised store.”
Contact Jon Chavez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6128.