Opening a franchise is a big step and a challenge, but opening just a month before the biggest pandemic to hit the world in a century is a whole different story.
We recently spoke to Twisted Indian Wraps franchisee Nick Knox about his journey from operating a crane in Barrie, Ontario, to opening a location in one of the summer hot spots. the most popular in the province.
Canadian business franchise: Tell us a little About you.
Nick knox (NK): I was born and raised in Collingwood, Ontario, and attended CCI (Collingwood Collegiate Institute) where I did the culinary program for two years. This program was focused on the basics and had nothing to do with Indian cuisine.
While I was still in school, I decided to open a hot dog cart in Collingwood. My first site opened in 2007. Then in 2008, I had a second site followed by a concession trailer at the end of that same season. I ran the hot dog and fresh cut french fries business for seven years.
In the meantime, I also graduated from Georgian College under the Police Foundations program. At that time, I was also very interested in construction, more specifically in driving a crane. I ended up selling my three locations, didn’t use my police diploma and instead started training as a crane operator in Barrie, Ontario. The experience and skills I gained over the five years of construction were impressive, but I have always missed the joy and happiness of cooking and customer service. At this point, I wanted to see what my options were. I asked myself, “Am I going back to the fast food industry myself or am I investigating franchising?”
CBF: What drew you to the franchise and the Twisted Indian Wraps in particular?
NK: I never thought I would own a franchise to be honest. I’ve always been a self-driven person who loved to create my own menu options, designs, and anything related to the fast food industry.
However, in 2018 and 2019 I ended up going to a franchise fair in Toronto. The second year I was going to open something but I wasn’t sure exactly what. At first I was leaning towards a different franchise, until I saw Twisted Indian Wraps at the show, and my decision was made – it was a business for me.
I set up a meeting with Twisted Indian Wraps, and they showed me how the concept worked. It was in 2019 when I first met Andy and Priya (the founders of the company) at the Park Place location in Barrie. I saw the company restaurant and tried several samples of their food. I realized you could have delicious Indian food and have it served quickly, and I was sold.
CBF: Can you tell us a bit about the process of opening your first location?
NK: When I opened the franchise in December 2019, it was a scary time. I put all of my hard earned money into a new concept, which wasn’t really established like many other franchise concepts in the market. Plus, it was Indian food in Wasaga Beach, and as we all know December is winter and winter in Wasaga Beach is a slow season. So there were quite a few factors that made him a little scary at first. All I did was trust the brand, the quality of the food, and realize that this is a new franchise. My guests were trying the food for the first time, but it was love at first sight.
CBF: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your franchise?
NK: COVID-19 arrived three to four months after opening and it was very unexpected. I never thought this would happen, especially right after a new restaurant opened. I ended up shutting down for six weeks because of COVID-19. I then reopened for a week just to close for another week. So my restaurant was closed for a total of seven weeks during the pandemic.
Did it affect us? It’s hard to say. We still haven’t had a solid year of sales to build on. I have a very good location at Wasaga Beach. We get a lot of traffic from cabins, beach goers, and locals.
Once we reopened the restaurant it was only take out. In our case, we could always ask our guests to come into the store and order their meals to go. This was one of the big pluses of Twisted Indian Wraps, as with many other restaurants you could only order online or over the phone.
Once COVID-19 hit, there was no lack of help from the franchisor. Andy and Priya have been great from day one and once the pandemic hit they were always able to help. Reduced fees / no fees, help with PPE and updates on different government programs are some of the areas they have helped me through these crazy confusing times.
CBF: What thoughts would you share with anyone considering getting into the franchise? Besides, what does the future hold for you?
NK: I would tell anyone who wants to own a Twisted Indian Wraps franchise to stay positive and remember that this is a new concept, so it will take time to prove its worth. Even some of the most popular concepts take a long time to enter a new market. Trust the brand and yourself. As for me, I plan to open a second location, in Collingwood, Ontario, or Blue Mountain. Some things have happened this year and I might even go to Orillia too. Love the Twisted Indian Wraps concept, the food and the brand. To anyone who wants to open one, believe in yourself and the brand, and you will be successful.