SotaRol Asian Kitchen is a new franchise offering that provides a new twist to the growing fast casual market. The restaurant opened its first location in the upscale 50th & France neighborhood of South Minneapolis in November 2015, reinventing how people eat Asian food. SotaRol offers “SotaRitos,” essentially a sushi burrito, as well as sushi rolls and bowls in a 100-percent scratch format kitchen with high quality ingredients (no MSG and no GMO’s).

What They do

Sushi in America has traditionally been associated with high-price-point fine dining in small-portion rolls. SotaRol offers consumers a forum for sushi to be consumed in a casual setting with quicker service and larger portions, through SotaRito Sushi Burrito’s. SotaRitos also are available with proteins other than fish, including chicken, Korean ribeye or five-spice pork. These are combined with greens and vegetables and served in a soy wrapping. SotaRol uses a soy wrap instead of nori or a flour tortilla because these offer a considerably higher level customer experience in both texture and lower calories.

Growth and Expansion

The company sees a significant long-term opportunity to expand its sales across more traditional Asian menu items such as ramen and other noodle dishes. It also invests strongly in professional employees by paying an average wage greater than $15 per hour, which has resulted in lower employee turnover and higher levels of customer service.

The leaders of the company believe that the continued decline in full-service sales at older, and perhaps tired, fast casual brands creates additional revenue for younger fast casual restaurant concepts. Over the last few years, they’ve observed increased location growth throughout the United States from new concepts to address increased demand from all consumers for new restaurant brands serving all genres of food in a fast casual format.

This year, SotaRol expanded to the University of Minnesota, Uptown Minneapolis, Target Center Arena and new suburban markets. Its revenue per square foot is among the highest in its market segment. The company is looking for experienced multi-unit restaurant operators to expand the SotaRol brand both in Minnesota and nationally. Anybody interested in more information about SotaRol Asian Kitchen can find it at or by contacting co-founder Mikael Asp, at (612) 845-8938 or

Have you heard the one where a weary and hungry traveler checks into a hotel only to find that the hotel has no room service and all the take out venues are closed? Yeah, been there right? Enter Pizza Bellhop. They have the solution, with a unique franchise offering for hotel and motel owners who are losing guests, and an additional revenue opportunity, from these stories.

The Pizza Bell Hop concept is not just another pizza franchise offering. In fact, start-up franchisees and people looking to open a new business need not apply. Pizza Bell Hop is offering its franchises only to existing lodging owners as a business within the existing lodging business. The Pizza Bellhop concept is predicated on offering limited service lodging facilities the ability to offer their guests a quality pizzeria style pizza made fresh and delivered fast. Utilizing extensive product testing, they developed a pizza with a proprietary garlic and butter infused oven rising pizza crust, a proprietary six-cheese blend, a vine-ripened fresh tomato sauce, and quality meats and vegetables. These pizzas cook in a custom oven programmed specially for Pizza Bellhop and that are placed in the lodging facility, creating a fresh, authentic pizza that cooks in less than four minutes.

Pizza Bell Hop has actually been in existence for several years, developing their proprietary products and testing them with travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. They are now rolling out their franchise offering to lodging owners as an add-on to the hotel or motel’s existing revenue sources by creating a standalone “plug-and-play” pizzeria franchise that can be set up with minimal capital and space requirements and no added employee costs. Any hotel or motel owner interested in more information about this unique franchise brand can find it on the Pizza Bell Hop website at or by contacting Rahul Kansara, Vice President of Pizza Bell Hop, at (763) 582-1980.

We are fortunate to have worked with Casa de Corazon during the last year to structure and roll-out its franchise system. Casa Franchising offers an early childhood education center under the name, Casa de Corazon. Natalie Standridge, President and owner of the company, developed the brand over a decade and a half of operating educational centers under a number of names, before settling on the Casa de Corazon name and curriculum in 2015. The centers provide educational programs to children between six weeks and five years of age, a market historically served by day care centers, rather than educational programs. The centers aim to serve approximately 122 children each. Before rolling out their franchise program, Casa was operating three company-owned centers, at various sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, allowing them to test their program in different types of neighborhoods with different demographics. Their first franchise will open in this market in the fall of 2017, and they will be opening their first out of state franchised outlet in Milwaukee early next year.

The Casa brand is unlike any education programs we have seen. By focusing on values like farm to childcare meal programs, environmental practices such as cloth diapering and recycling, and Accredited Spanish-immersion curriculum, they have created a model that resonates with parents in their market, and developed standards and curriculum they feel is ready for the national market. Anyone interested in more information about the brand can find it on their website at

We appreciate the opportunity to work with new and different brands such as Casa de Corazon, and thank them for the opportunity to do so and for the kind words about us. In providing information to us for this blog post, Ms. Standridge wrote, “We needed a partner to take our growth plans to the next level through the franchise business model. Joe Fittante worked with us to understand the fundamentals of our vision and business to identify an approach and expansion strategy that would fit our needs and goals. The expertise and access to key legal information and advice that the Larkin Hoffman firm brings to the table provided us with a comprehensive blueprint of how to launch our franchise concept.”

Running a franchise company is a completely different business than selling products or services directly to consumers.  As a franchisor, you sell the right to use your brand and system (i.e., the franchise) to franchisees who in turn sell products or services to consumers using your brand and system.  Many new franchisors are caught of guard by the change in business model once they take the leap to franchising.  As a successful franchisor, you have to balance the growth of the brand and the overall health of the franchise system with the needs and wants of franchisees—sometimes your objectives and franchisees’ objectives are aligned, and sometimes they are not.  The franchisors that survive and continue to expand are those that understand how to run a franchise system.

You will find a lot of guidance on running a franchise system as a franchisor on this blog and elsewhere on the Internet, as well as through industry associations, including the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising and the International Franchise Association.  We would also recommend that startup and emerging franchisors read a new book, Franchise Management For Dummies, co-authored by Michael H. Seid and Joyce Mazero.  Although the book focuses on both franchisors and franchisees, it discusses creating marketing plans and branding and the secrets to continued success and future expansion.

The co-authors answered some questions regarding Franchise Management For Dummies in a Q&A published in Franchising World, a publication of the International Franchise Association.  Mr. Seid made a key observation for any entrepreneur looking to franchise his or her business:

Most important for prospective franchisors is to understand that there are consultants and lawyers that we call franchise packagers. They offer cookie-cutter services — and that is a serious problem. Pick your advisors carefully and talk to their clients to understand their reputations.

Q&A with the Authors of Franchise Management For Dummies, June 05, 2017, Robert Cresanti, International Franchise Association.

In a previous blog post, I talked about picking between a franchise law firm and a consultant.  As noted in Franchise Management For Dummies and on this blog, the franchise relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee is both a business and a legal relationship.  Franchising is governed by complex state and federal laws regarding the offering and selling of franchises and the ongoing relationship with franchisees, including renewal and termination.  Franchise law firms such as Larkin Hoffman are subject to ethical rules which require us to advice clients based on their best interests.  Consultants, while they may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, are not subject to these same ethical rules.  The Larkin Hoffman Franchise Team will not recommend franchising a business if we feel that franchising is not the best growth strategy or that the business is not ripe for franchising.

Mr. Seid continues in his Q&A noting that even among franchise law firms, not all franchise law firms are created equal.  Franchising is a niche area of law.  When choosing a franchise law firm, review the credentials and experience of the franchise lawyers and do your research on the reputation and work product of the law firm.  You may want to talk to current clients of the law firm on their experience working with that law firm.

Picking the right partner in structuring your franchise system at the onset is important to ensure your franchise system starts on the right path.  Remember, you will be signing 5 to 20 year franchise agreements with franchisees, so the terms you set in the beginning will govern the franchise relationship between you and your franchisees for the duration of the franchise term.  Choose wisely.