Cicero resident enjoys a career in food franchising – Eagle News Online

By on June 28, 2022 0

CICERO – Thirty years ago, Roger Wagner sent his resume to Taco Bell. The dissatisfied Comerica Bank employee wanted to change careers in the fast food industry.

Today, the Cicero resident’s restaurant empire includes numerous Burger King, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants across New York State.

From his main office near Carrier Circle, Wagner oversees 20 Burger Kings stretching mostly from the Canadian border to Elmira, a dozen Moe’s Southwest Grills scattered across New York State, and now a handful of Tropical locations. Smoothie Cafe.

However, Wagner wouldn’t have amassed such a diverse portfolio without first being hired by Taco Bell as an assistant manager in the Detroit metro area. The job offer was what ultimately set him up for success in his opinion.

“At that time, it was a great opportunity that really allowed me to go through hard knock restoration school,” Wagner said.

Wagner was soon promoted to general manager of the Mexican-inspired fast-food chain, and eventually took on a project manager position he held from a corporate office in Chicago.

After an interim stop in Washington, DC, during which he worked for the Au Bon Pain sandwich shop and cafe, Wagner returned to Chicago to run more than 20 Taco Bells. He would later serve as the company’s Territory Manager, responsible for franchise and licensing operations in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and central Missouri.

When one of these franchisees secured the development rights to Panera Bread, Wagner moved to Las Vegas to work alongside it as an operating partner, then built the first of these franchises west of the river. Mississippi.

Noticing that the Nevada City economy was not progressing as expected, Wagner was bought out and given the opportunity to manage 42 basic multi-brand KFC locations in and around Kansas City.

From there he moved to Syracuse to work on the corporate side of Burger King as a franchise business manager. With this change of scenery, he helped grow the regional footprint of the quick-serve burger joint to its limits, even paving the way for an overflow into small town Pennsylvania, at which point he and his colleagues have looked up Moe’s as another brand they could check out. and operate.

According to Wagner, he’s cornered the Rochester market for Moe’s since then and expanded his operation to as many locations in New York as he could without taking any risks over potential customer activity.

In the midst of the pandemic, the complement to Burger King and Moe’s that Wagner was looking for ended up coming to his attention by chance and off the clock.

While attending a lacrosse tournament his daughters were participating in out of town, Wagner had the idea to step away for some downtime so they could grab a bite to eat.

Just past the parking lot was a Tropical Smoothie Cafe his daughters insisted on for lunch – a collective request he reluctantly accepted, not realizing the promising business platform that lay inside.

Inside, he enjoyed the appropriately equatorial-like atmosphere, which he described as “uplifting and bright like a day at the beach.” He also acknowledged the “clean” kitchen environment with no fryers or hoods as well as the aquatic artwork on the walls.

While reviewing the approximate capital cost of the restaurant, Wagner further observed that quesadillas and wraps met long-lasting smoothies, fully blended with fruit, stripped of ice crystals to give the menu its generative balance. revenue from “tasty” and “sweet but sweet” foods. choice of healthy drinks”.

“You put one of these smoothies in someone’s hand on the way to the office and it will stay on their desk for 45 minutes to an hour and still be a tasty product,” Wagner said. “With all the protein and supplements, it’s almost like a meal in a cup too.”

Absorbed by this impromptu experience, the businessman from the Syracuse region decided to go all out.

To solidify the brand as a basis for future comparisons in parts of the state, he made sure to get ahead of other smoothie-based concepts by quickly penetrating the market with three tropical smoothies – one in the town of Victor , one in New Hartford and one in Western New York, where two more are expected to depart sometime next year.

“Given these times, these smoothie restaurants are becoming an oasis for customers and an escape from the rest of the world,” Wagner said. “When you have a nice, inviting, tropical environment where people treat you kindly and you have a great experience with great food, it takes that little segment of your day that maybe isn’t going so well and makes it fantastic. ”

In addition to focusing on brand identity, Wagner also seeks to create leadership opportunities for his companies’ most loyal employees. This includes creating paths within the infrastructure for a dedicated assistant manager when their equally dedicated general manager has no intention of leaving their job and upward mobility is unlikely.

In such a case, that assistant manager could jump from Moe’s to one of the newly built and opened tropical smoothies, he said.

As it stands, Wagner is planning the smoothie brand’s entry into the towns of Cicero and DeWitt, a prospect he remains “excited” about because of his confidence that the Syracuse area will now be his home.