Kaleb and Khai Duong always knew they wanted to pursue local business ownership together in their spirited city of New Orleans.
The Duongs first got into franchising in 2010 when they opened a couple of frozen yogurt shops, which they still own and operate today. Wanting to diversify, and being familiar with MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes after visiting Dallas, the brothers looked into the brand. They were quickly blown away by the brand’s food, atmosphere and dedication to the best Guest experience possible. Today, they’re the proud owners of two MOOYAH locations—one at New Orleans’ Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk and one in the suburb of Metairie.
“From a very young age, we always wanted to be entrepreneurs. Today, we’re proud to say that franchising has helped to make that dream a reality for us,” Khai said.
Kaleb and Khai’s MOOYAH restaurant in Metairie was also the first stop of the International Franchise Association’s @OurFranchise tour in New Orleans on November 17. The nationwide tour was created to highlight how local franchise owners and their employees are supporting local communities and creating jobs and business ownership opportunities. This was the IFA’s fifth stop, with previous visits in Colorado, Illinois, Virginia and Texas.
“Americans from all walks of life turn to franchising to find first jobs, start new businesses and learn skills that lead to successful careers. The @OurFranchise campaign captures the real positive impact of the franchise model and speaks to the level of economic contribution franchise owners continue to bring to the nation’s economy,” said Robert Cresanti, President and CEO of the IFA, who was on site during the day-long tour in New Orleans.
During his visit, Cresanti explained that there’s a real need to eliminate the stigma surrounding franchising—an industry that’s largely misunderstood, despite the fact that it contributes nearly $674 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 7.6 million jobs.
“As an association, we’re faced with a lot of government regulations—things that are negatively impacting the franchising industry. In doing research, we’ve found that it all stems from a lot of misunderstanding of the business model itself,” Cresanti explained. “At the heart of it, though, it’s a system of local owners of big brands. And the best way to educate the public is to highlight the work that the Duongs and thousands of other franchisees are doing. People often ignore the fact that these owners are the proprietors—this is what they do for a living to provide for themselves and for their families. It’s so important for people to lift their chins up out of the day-to-day business and pay attention—they need to realize the greater impact this is having on their community.”
The Duongs echoed that sentiment, pointing to a “Locally Owned and Operated” sign that’s proudly placed on their restaurant’s front door.
“A lot of customers, they hear about franchising and they think of big corporations. We wanted to put it right here on our front door for the world to see: this MOOYAH is locally owned and operated. We’re local guys. We were born and raised right here in Metairie, and we want to showcase our restaurant that we work hard for every single day,” Khai said.
During the tour’s second stop at Walk-On’s, a growing sports bar brand located in the heart of New Orleans, local owner Kyle Brechtel explained how important franchising has been in his life, too. A franchisee since he was 19, he has seen firsthand how important companies like Walk-On’s are for the local economy. He’s also witnessed a lot of the negative rhetoric about franchising that Cresanti is vehemently fighting against.
“I’ve been a franchisee for my entire professional career. And in markets like New Orleans, which hasn’t quite embraced franchising, there’s a big misunderstanding. Yes, we are locally owned and locally operated. We’re flying the Walk-On’s flag, but it’s our business. We’re here every day. We’re the ones putting our blood, sweat and tears into this to make it an important part of our community,” Brechtel said.