Penn Station

WEST VIRGINIA

Roger and Marilyn Kirkland own seven Penn Stations in West Virginia and two in Pennsylvania. Revenues are projected to reach more than $5 million by year-end.
Source: Penn Station East Coast Subs
Roger and Marilyn Kirkland own seven Penn Stations in West Virginia and two in Pennsylvania. Revenues are projected to reach more than $5 million by year-end.
Description: Quick-service subs and deli sandwiches
Owners: Roger and Marilyn Kirkland
Years in business: 12
No. of franchises owned: 9
Start-up costs: $291,700 to $535,000
Franchisor fees: $25,000; royalties 4%-8%, depending on monthly sales; marketing 1% of monthly sales
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $4.5 million; $5.3 million
2016 projected annual growth rate: 11%

Roger Kirkland spent more than two decades working for McDonald's, first as a store manager and supervisor and then later as a franchisee. He and his wife, Marilyn, owned their restaurant in West Virginia for three years, but Roger said the passion for the concept just wasn't there anymore.

That's when he suggested they check out Penn Station, the franchised chain of quick-service, freshly made subs and sandwiches that he enjoyed. "Once Marilyn tasted the food, she said, 'Sell the McDonald's and start opening these,'" he said. They soon got in touch with the franchise's owner, Jeff Osterfeld, and its president, Craig Dunaway, and opened their first store in 2004.

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"Once we met with them, it was like listening to [McDonald's founder] Ray Kroc," Roger said. "They had a passion for serving the best-tasting sub that you could sink your teeth into." The Kirklands now own seven Penn Stations in West Virginia and two in Pennsylvania, featuring grilled and fresh subs, hand-cut fries and freshly squeezed lemonade. The business is growing at an 11 percent clip, with revenues projected to reach more than $5 million by year-end.

Roger attributes his success to Penn Station's reputation for serving the best-tasting subs around. "They truly are to subs what Ben & Jerry's is to ice cream," he said. When it comes to site selection, the parent company gives franchisees access to a proprietary software program that uses a sophisticated algorithm to predict the best location for any new store. "I used it when I opened my stores in Pennsylvania, and they're doing great business," he said.

As with most food-service businesses, Roger said the biggest challenge is finding and keeping good employees. That's why he encourages potential business owners to reach out to both successful and struggling franchisees to hear about challenges and solutions. "You want to know the risks involved in owning a franchise, as well as the time and the commitment it takes," he said.

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