Giardino Gourmet Salads, the Florida-based fast-casual concept focused on garden-to-bowl nutrition, announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement with its largest multi-unit franchisees, Jaime Mitrani and Robert Fuerth, to join the brand’s founders, Ody and Kenny Lugo, as part of the brand’s new ownership structure. This announcement comes on the heels of Giardino Gourmet Salad’s 15-year anniversary, where it grew from a single Coral Gables, Florida, restaurant into a nearly 20-unit regional franchise chain.
“Our team is incredibly proud of all we have accomplished over the last 15 years and the addition of Jaime and Rob to our executive leadership positions Giardino Gourmet Salads for tremendous success as we head into 2020 and beyond,” said Ody Lugo, Giardino Gourmet Salads creator and co-founder. “Since they first became Giardino Gourmet Salad franchisees in 2012, they have fine-tuned operations, run $1 million revenue restaurants, and become the largest multi-unit operators with five restaurants across our entire system.”
Miami natives, Mitrani and Fuerth’s path to restaurant ownership began after Mitrani left his successful career as an attorney at the global law firm of Holland & Knight to pursue his dream of entrepreneurship. After looking into various franchise concepts, Mitrani joined forces with Fuerth and the business partners purchased their first Giardino Gourmet Salads restaurant in South Miami. Shortly thereafter, they built a new restaurant in Miami Lakes, and acquired additional existing restaurants in Palmetto Bay and Kendall, which was followed by the acquisition of their newest restaurant in the Blue Lagoon business district.
“Assuming a larger equity stake in the future of the entire Giardino Gourmet Salads brand was the logical next step for us in our business progression,” said Mitrani, Giardino Gourmet Salads owner and multi-unit franchisee. “As we enter a new decade, our mission remains to expand the brand into new and existing development markets across Florida while leveraging our multi-unit restaurant ownership experience to assist franchisees with streamlining operations and running profitable restaurants.”
Under its new executive leadership structure, Giardino Gourmet Salads is actively looking to expand in cities across Florida such as Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, and Sarasota. Founders Ody and Kenny Lugo, a former Miami-Dade County schoolteacher and Miami-Dade County firefighter respectively, developed their vision for the restaurant after realizing there was a genuine need across South Florida for fresh garden-to-bowl food. It was so popular, they opened a second franchise location a short time later. After realizing there was a growing demand for their idea of "Nutritional Empowerment" as part of people’s everyday lives, they saw an opportunity to expand the brand across Florida and eventually beyond through franchising.
“When we were searching for a company to invest in back in 2012, we knew we wanted a lifestyle brand that would resonate with millennials and carry over into other generations as well,” said Mitrani. “Giardino Gourmet Salads fits that mold because there is a genuine need for real, simple, fast, and nutritious food that is handcrafted for guests instead of traditional fast food. Now as owners and part of the executive leadership team, there is no doubt we’ll be able to sustain our current growth and future success for years to come.”