Franchisees: How to Make It in a Big City

Urban locations present unique challenges: higher taxes, complicated real estate, lifestyle differences. But it's true what they say about big-city success: If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Nouveau city slicker: Jodi Hamilton of Dream Dinners. Source: Photography by Kevin J. Miyazaki

Walkable commercial districts, mom-and-pop shops and unique restaurants are all part of the local flavor and culture of big cities. In most urban cores, there are no mega-grocery stores, big boxes like Target and Walmart or strip malls with convenient parking. The franchise brands that make up the commercial ecosystem of suburban and small-town life simply don't exist in these dense population centers.

In fact, many franchise brands would rather expand to Dubai or the Philippines than move into a U.S. urban core. Opening in a downtown location presents a host of challenges. Urban centers often have extra taxes and more stringent regulations, especially for restaurant brands. Rents, which can be substantially higher than the franchise model calls for, may price franchises out of the market. And those that can afford space often are forced to deviate from established architectural footprints; for a franchise brand that typically has

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