Growth in Texas
Originally Published at TylerPaper by Casey Murphy
After acquiring Jersey Mike's Subs in Tyler a few months ago, partners Jeff Worthen and Bryan Selden are already working on a second location.
Construction is under way on the Jersey Mike's going into the former Blockbuster building on the corner of Beckham Avenue and Fifth Street. The restaurant, which offers cold and hot authentic subs with a Jersey flair, subs in a tub (salads) and wraps, is scheduled to open this month.
Worthen and Selden had each been in the franchise business when they were introduced by David Weaver about four years ago. The three have since joined to form Lone Star Restaurants, running several chains out of the Tyler-based business.
Worthen, 39, became a franchisee when he acquired his first Wingstop in September 2001, in Tyler with his wife, Machiea, whom he married in July 2001. They were both pharmaceutical reps at the time.
Two years later, the couple opened their second location in Longview, two in Austin and were getting reading to open their third Wingstop in Tyler.
That was four years ago, when Worthen first met Weaver, who introduced him to Selden.
Weaver owned several Subways and Selden had several Great American Cookies locations.
Selden, 53, was a convenience store operator when he used to sit in the mall and eat cookies while his wife of 29 years, Sarah, shopped. He started checking out the cookie store and got started in the franchise business, he said.
He has been a franchisee of the Great American Cookies, including the one in Broadway Square Mall, for 24 years and has 13 stores.
Selden's wife, with their oldest daughter Elizabeth, 25, own Paper Capers in Tyler.
Shortly after the three men met, Weaver and Selden bought into Worthen's company and they started Lone Star Restaurants.
Nearly four years ago, “we put this group together so we can run all brands out of one company in Tyler,” Worthen said.
The three men together own TCBY, Wingstop (except for two Austin locations Worthen owns alone) and Smashburger locations.
Weaver alone has the Subways, Selden has the cookie company by himself and Worthen and Selden together own the Jersey Mike's.
The men have already had to expand their Tyler office, located on Old Jacksonville Highway, three times last year but are looking to expand again. Lone Star Restaurants has seven employees, including CFO, COO, accountant, architect and advertising director, and they plan to add two more.
Worthen and Selden acquired the existing Jersey Mike's about three months ago and renovated the restaurant. About 20 workers worked around the clock for five days to complete the upgrades.
Jersey Mike's has been in Tyler for about seven years and they thought the restaurant needed attention, Worthen said.
They have about 15 employees at the existing store and plan to have about the same amount at the new location.
The new store on Fifth and Beckham will be 1,700 square feet and will look similar to the other restaurant. They are doing an entire facelift to what used to be the old Blockbuster and are adding a patio.
They started the remodel of the building about four weeks ago and are shooting for an opening date of April 27.
“We're there to serve the eastern part of town, TJC (Tyler Junior College) and the hospital community,” Selden said.
The new restaurant will be their second Jersey Mike's location. They have two more under construction and five or six more planned.
Worthen said he had never eaten at Jersey Mike's, founded in 1956 in New Jersey, until he found out the one in Tyler was for sale. Now he eats their regularly, choosing the Jersey Shore's Favorite — a sub loaded with provolone, ham and cappacuolo.
Selden often eats the turkey breast with provolone sub or the chicken salad.
The men own seven Wingstops, recently having sold 10 in Houston. They are working on their seventh Smashburger, owning two in Tyler, and have five more under construction.
Lone Star Restaurants opened its first TCBY in Tyler on Tuesday and have four more planned in the near future. They are the area developers for TCBY in the state and will be opening, selling and operating all of the yogurt chains in Texas, Worthen said, adding that they are looking to open 250 to 300 locations in the coming years.
They will own Jersey Mike's from Tarrant County to Shreveport and have Wingstops all over East Texas region. Worthen still has Wingstops in Austin on his own and Selden's Great American Cookie Co. stores are scattered east of Interstate 35, from Corpus Christi to Tyler. Combining all their franchises, the men plan to open about a dozen more restaurants throughout Texas in the next year, they said.
Surprisingly, Selden said it's not that hard to keep up with all of the different restaurants they own. They have branch managers watching over each brand and someone watching over the branch managers.
“And we try to stay out of the way,” he said