On October 6, 2014, Mississippi Franchise Development (MFD) opened the first of 10 planned Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina restaurants in Mississippi. Headed by Salsarita’s CEO and the company’s franchisor Phil Friedman, MFD announced the 10 restaurant development plan in 2012. The first of the planned Salsarita’s restaurants, located at 6582 Getwell Road in Southaven, represents the culmination of years of extensive market studies, real estate evaluations, and business preparation by a group of backers with combined decades of experience in the restaurant industry. But for MFD, Southaven is only the beginning of what promises to be a long line of successes befitting the popular fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain.
“Southaven is a growing, vibrant market and is the perfect place to launch our development across Mississippi,” Friedman says. “We’ve opened very strong, and this is the second restaurant opened in the Salsarita's system in the last 30 days that’s been built around our new, well-received prototype restaurant design.”
Joined by Friedman is John Clark, with whom Friedman worked for 12 years when he was CEO of McAlister's Deli chain of restaurants. The two backers work along with prominent Mississippian lawyer Barry Cannada and former senator Trent Lott. With the MFD group, Friedman provides franchise development acumen he’s honed through a career of calculated development that has emphasized never sacrificing quality for the sake of short-term profit.
“My development philosophy as a franchisor working with experienced multi-unit operators is to establish a reasonable opening schedule for the franchise,” Friedman says. “Then, I work with the owner to ensure quality development. Often the initial development takes time as the site search ramps up and the site standards are established. A franchisee’s experience and knowledge in the market will make things go faster, but quality site availability is the key. John Clark and I looked at a number of locations that would be OK, but were simply not good enough. The sites we now have and will continue to sign truly are.”
Already, MFD has secured three additional locations in Mississippi for expansion, including Starkville and Oxford, home of Mississippi State University and The University of Mississippi respectively. The group has taken its time in bringing the restaurants to Mississippi, but, says Friedman, that kind of careful strategizing is what has ensured his past success—and what looks to continue it. “We took our time developing our strategy, but the success we’ve already seen proves that it was worth the wait. For us, the turtle wins the race!”