After a visit to the California wine country, Jason Doyle was inspired to create a chic yet comfortable place where patrons could socialize and sample a variety of wines. In 2003, his vision became a reality when the first Wine Loft Wine Bar opened in New Orleans. The concept was an immediate hit and eventually spread throughout the country with both franchise and corporate-owned locations.
Since the Wine Loft’s success, new restaurant offerings have been established by Doyle International, a New Orleans-based franchise organization established by Jason Doyle. The six concepts include: The Wine Loft (an upscale wine bar), La Crepe Nanou (a neighborhood French bistro), Huey’s 24/7 Diner (a New Orleans diner), Rasputin Restaurant & Vodka Bar (a Russian-inspired ultra lounge), Press It Bistrot & Automat (a modernized New York-inspired automat), and Brewpublic (a craft house offering beer, cocktails, and pub-style grub).
What I find most interesting is that Doyle International has created a solution to the day-to-day management of its franchises (something it calls the Doyle Diamond Management System). Using this system, Doyle is able to offer its franchisees management of their franchises from development and store opening to ongoing operations and marketing.
I had the opportunity to interview Frank Simoncioni, Senior VP of Sales for Doyle International. Frank has a background in nutritional sales with Ross Products, a division of Abbott Labs. In addition, Frank was the owner of a small chocolate candy company in New Orleans, the CEO of a medium-sized confectionary manufacturer, and a business consultant.
Franchise Chatter (FC): How did Doyle International get its start?
Frank Simoncioni (FS): Jason Doyle started Doyle International in 2003 with his first concept the Wine Loft Wine Bar. He has since developed 5 other restaurant concepts. Jason’s passion for restaurants comes from over 10 years of experience in various management and executive positions with Houston’s Restaurants & Bravo Development, Inc.
FC: Can you tell us about The Wine Loft, your first and most popular franchise concept?
FS: Yes, the Wine Loft was our first franchised concept in 2003, but it’s only the most popular because we have over 15 franchises with the Wine Loft. Our other concepts such as Huey’s 24/7 Diner and La Crepe Nanou French Bistro are also very popular and will soon have multiple franchises throughout the United States.
The Wine Loft’s goal was to create a relaxing atmosphere where people could get together and enjoy great food, a wonderful wine experience, along with friendly service. That combination has reacted favorably with our customers which encourages regular patronage.
FC: What other restaurant and bar concepts make up your current portfolio, and what’s special about each one?
FS: The next concept we have begun franchising is Huey’s 24/7 Diner, which features the traditional American diner experience, with a focus on classic New Orleans dishes. Huey’s fits well in most areas where you would expect a great diner as well as certain destinations like community centers, theme parks, and professional sports facilities. Designed with an Art Deco style touch, this is really a special restaurant.
Our third concept is La Crepe Nanou French Bistro, which has served classic French cuisine since 1983. It has received numerous culinary accolades. We consider it a warm “neighborhood bistro” with its quaint, authentic atmosphere.
Press It Bistrot & Automat is our newest restaurant concept and soon to be available for franchise. Consider a restaurant that is perfect for office buildings, high traffic malls, airports, etc., where fresh salads, paninis, wraps, and great tasting desserts are all made fresh and available to serve people on-the-go. What is unique about this concept is we offer self-serve craft beer and wine. Patrons can use prepaid cards to dispense their own beverages. I invite you to check our website www.doyleinternationalinc.com for more information on these concepts.
FC: Why did you decide to develop multiple concepts versus focusing on just one or two?
FS: We recognize that there were many niches within the restaurant field that were unfulfilled, and because we are a small and flexible company, we are able to fill those niches and be a big fish in a smaller pond.
FC: What kind of infrastructure do you have in place to support the development and growth of your six concepts?
FS: We have in place a very unique management system called the Doyle Diamond Management System, and what makes this unique is we are the only restaurant company in the country that offers an option to franchisees to either run their restaurant as a traditional franchise or be a passive investor where we will help manage the restaurant for them.
FC: Is there a particular region of the country where you’d like to focus on at this time?
FS: We would like to focus our attention on the southeastern region but we are open to selected locations if the particular concept is a good fit. Therefore we have current franchises available in a variety of locations across the country.
FC: Describe the ideal franchisee for your restaurant and bar concepts.
FS: The ideal franchisee is one of two types: 1.) This franchisee is interested in being hands-on with his or her franchise, with some business experience, and also financially able to weather the challenges of business ownership. 2.) The next ideal franchisee would be the passive investor who is only interested in either networking/marketing his or her business through social networks or purely as a passive investor that has no hands-on experience, is financially stable and is willing to have Doyle International manage the franchise.
FC: Has the current economic climate affected your franchise growth strategy? What are you doing to adapt?
FS: Our strategy has not changed but we are aggressively trying to help potential franchisees locate companies that can help them with financing, since capital is much more difficult to acquire through the SBA program.
FC: What are your future plans for the growth and development of Doyle International and your portfolio companies?
FS: We are looking to become a recognized name throughout the restaurant industry because of the quality and service that we provide both to our patrons and our franchisees.
FC: How can prospective franchisees learn more about your company and the franchise opportunities you offer?
FS: You can look us up on our website at www.doyleinternationalinc.com.