Franchise Opportunities Blog
Franchisee Spotlight: Q&A with Mauro & Celma Forastieri from The Big Salad
May is National Salad Month, so what better way to celebrate than continuing a Franchisee Spotlight series with the newest owners of The Big Salad franchise in Sugarland, Texas. Mauro & Celma Forastieri weren’t just excited to become business owners, they wanted to bring something new to the booming suburb of Houston.
What’s your background? What did you do before owning The Big Salad franchise?
We are both from Brazil, Sao Paulo city. I worked as an engineer and my wife, Celma, was a lawyer. I worked for a variety of companies that produced products such as paper, latex and chemicals, in my home country of Brazil and the United States.
What made you decide to look into franchising?
Well, I had ascended to a very good job in the oil and gas division in my company, but the travel schedule was grueling. For a time, I was traveling internationally as much as 90 percent of the month! My wife and daughter spent a lot of time home alone and I didn’t like that. Eventually, we worked towards getting my travel schedule down to 50 percent of the time by moving to the U.S.A. but even then, I was starting to think about what’s next for me and my family. I spent a few more years working in the industry, but once my last team was dissolved, I decided to make a change.
Why did you select The Big Salad?
Food was always on our radar because we felt like it was stable. We believed the future would be health food, so after a bit of work with a franchise consultant, we were connected with John Bornoty at The Big Salad. We really liked the concept and the fact that there wasn’t much competition for fast casual, fresh-made salads in our home of Sugarland, Texas. I also really liked that they were a newer franchise that we had the opportunity to join in the early stages of their franchise growth.
What sets The Big Salad apart from some of the other fast casual soup, salad and sandwich franchises?
I think the biggest thing for us was how the product is made and who it’s made for. The Big Salad uses whole heads of lettuce as opposed to pre-cut and bagged items. That’s true of most of our produce. I also liked that it was made to order in front of the customer. They are observing the entire process to ensure it has just the right amount of toppings, the right amount of dressing and is chopped to their desired consistency.
What are some of the challenges you face in your new franchise business?
Well, with The Big Salad being so new and our unit the first in all of Texas, brand awareness is the biggest challenge right now. Once we get people in the door to try our food and get to know our staff, we know they’ll be back. It’s getting them to know us that’s our biggest opportunity right now.
What are your goals for the future?
I think that, down the road, we’d like to look at opening one or two more units in Houston. It’s such a big market that once the brand catches on, there will be plenty of opportunity to grow. In the meantime, we are excited to continue learning the business and growing our restaurant in Sugarland.
What is the one piece of advice you’d offer to others in your position considering a franchise?
Once you’re confident that you want to move forward in franchising, don’t hesitate to get going. Franchisors use a thorough process to find the franchise model that fits your profile. Then you need to find real estate, build out your business, train and hire staff and get to work. It can take some time, but it’s totally worth it!
Interested in following in Mauro and Celma’s footsteps and taking control of your entrepreneurial future with The Big Salad? Visit http://www.thebigsalad.net/franchise-opportunities/ to get started today!