Wit or Witout Philly Cheesesteaks announced the signing of its first franchise development agreement. Winner of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle, the two-unit Wit or Witout chain was acquired last year by Philadelphia restaurateur Tony Altomare, owner of seven Tony Roni’s Italian restaurants. A few months later, Jim Sahene, former TCBY president and current Bruster’s Real Ice Cream chief executive, came on board to help Altomare develop and franchise the brand.
Keith Morris, a Philadelphia financial advisor, former LaSalle University basketball player, and son of legendary college and high school basketball coach Speedy Morris, has signed a deal to open the first franchised Wit or Witout. He is planning to develop several restaurants over the next few years, with the first expected to open this fall in Montgomery County, northwest of Philadelphia. The search for a site is underway.
“The opportunity to become the first Wit or Witout franchisee is an honor for me,” Morris says. “I am confident that with Tony and Jim’s guidance, the brand will be known nationally in a few short years and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Since buying Wit or Witout, Altomare and Sahene have expanded the menu, revamped the restaurant’s design, developed operating systems, and created marketing and franchise strategies.
“Keith brings great credibility and visibility to Wit or Witout,” Altomare says. “We are seeing strong interest from prospective franchisees in a number of states, but I am thrilled that our plan to expand is beginning right here with more Philly restaurants.”
Like Morris, Altomare was a financial advisor before going into the restaurant business. Longtime friends, they talked years ago about opening a restaurant together. “I have always been impressed with Tony’s work ethic and integrity,” Morris says. “His ability to grow the Tony Roni’s brand has amazed me and I am sure he will do the same with Wit or Witout.”
Marketed as “born and raised in Philly,” Wit or Witout offers unique food items in a fun, entertaining Philly-centric environment. Wit or Witout is seeking franchisees for territories in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and New York.