Eggsmart franchisee Naazir Zariwala explains how adaptability and dedication made the perfect recipe for multi-unit ownership success
By Stefanie Ucci
Some people like their eggs scrambled, others with a side of hashbrowns—and for Eggsmart franchisee Naazir Zariwala, his are best served with a dash of entrepreneurialism!
Not only is Naazir a new franchisee, having opened his first location in Scarborough, Ontario in June 2016; he’s a multi-unit owner who recently hatched his second location nearby in Leaside in November 2021.
“At Eggsmart, we look to provide an innovative twist to breakfast, brunch, and lunch options,” explains Naazir. “We provide a dining experience that has a great ambiance, a fun environment to dine in, and a very vibrant atmosphere. The whole idea is to have innovative menu options that cover all the bases for everyone in your brunch party and appeal to everyone’s tastes.”
Eggsmart has more than 45 restaurants across Canada and Naazir’s Leaside location is one of the newest spots. The wide menu offering includes classic breakfast dishes such as signature egg breakfasts, eggs Benedict, egg skillets and omelets, pancakes and French toast. And for lunch: salads, burgers, sandwiches, burritos, and more.
With 11 years of sales experience in consumer-packaged goods and industrial equipment, Naazir explains that he had “no prior experience working in a restaurant environment, not even while in school,” but has still managed to flourish as a business owner.
An egg-ceptional adventure
So how does one go from a sales-based career to being a restaurant business owner? With a lot of grit, perseverance, and the ability to adapt and think quickly on your feet in a fast-paced environment.
It also helps to have the backing of a successful and well-known franchise brand behind you. “What drew me to the franchising model was the fact that, because I didn’t have that restaurant experience, I wanted some sort of structure to start off with,” says Naazir. “I didn’t want to get into a situation where I’m learning how to operate a restaurant but at the same time I’m building a brand and marketing from scratch, since that requires a tremendous amount of capital and time.” He adds that the Eggsmart team helped take care of location tracking and other vital elements which allowed him to focus more on opening and building his business.
Naazir decided to start from scratch to fully understand the ins and outs of the Eggsmart restaurant including the menu offerings, running the back-of-house kitchen, serving customers on the floor, and even getting his hands wet with dishwashing duties. “That gave me a well-rounded idea of what to do when I owned my restaurant,” he notes.
When it comes to initial training, Eggsmart provides an intensive four-week program that focuses for two weeks on back-of-house operations in the kitchen, and the next two weeks on diving into the front-of-house, serving tables and connecting with guests.
As for ongoing support, the brand offers consistent assistance from the operations team to keep franchise owners up to date on all menu and recipe offerings. “Whenever we launch something, they come by and support us. [Like when there’s] a new recipe, just to show how it would roll out to the restaurants once it’s launched,” explains Naazir. “[I can] also get some advice from them on how to grow my business.”
Butter days ahead
Since he’s in the early years of entrepreneurship, Naazir’s challenges and learnings are fresh in his mind.
“The biggest challenge for me was [that I’d been] an employee for 11 years [which required] this mental shift. When you’re an employee, your role is generally defined within a certain scope and context,” he explains. “Being a business owner, you’re literally involved in everything, from payroll to understanding your financial statements. So, you look at your business from [the standpoint of] being holistically responsible for everything. You have to be a good leader and offer great customer service.”
Naazir adds, “When you’re learning, you have growing pains. So, suddenly from having a pretty defined scope of what I was supposed to be doing, I’m a new business owner involved in everything because I’m trying to learn everything.”
Another challenge he notes was finding a location for his second franchise in Leaside, Ontario. “Scoping out my second location took almost three years,” he says. It was due to the pandemic that a great location became available and was an ideal spot for a new Eggsmart franchise. “When I was a rep for the packaged goods company, my territory was Leaside, so I knew the potential there.”
From the start, Naazir went into business ownership with bright eyes and big dreams of operating multiple units and scaling up.
“Entrepreneurs are people who want to be in control of their own destiny. So, working for different companies over the years … I felt very limited in my growth opportunities being an employee. When you’re a business owner, if you succeed at [your first] location, you can control going onto becoming bigger and scaling up. Those are the things that shifted my mindset.”
“I would say my experience has been very fulfilling,” explains Naazir of his first few years as a franchisee. “It was very challenging in the beginning, and a steep learning curve in the case of someone like me who was never in the restaurant industry. That really enriched me and gave me that feeling of fulfillment. I feel very grateful that I’m able to be my own boss.”
As a breakfast restaurant with shorter operating times, Naazir says what appealed to him most was the flexible hours that help support a healthy work-life balance. His hours are “pretty defined, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” allowing him to enjoy the rest of his days with family and friends. And his customers get to sleep in and still arrive on time to enjoy an eggs Benny dish, too!
Establishing his decision to invest in a breakfast franchise was step one, but then came narrowing down the one brand that would be the perfect fit for his personal lifestyle and business goals. It’s not a decision that’s made overnight and requires a lot of effort and research for prospective franchisees.
Naazir explains that once he was in the breakfast franchise mindset, he began looking at other brands in the space but was drawn to Eggsmart for its innovative menu that caters to everyone of all ages and taste preferences. And with a background and mindset in sales, he realized that the diverse menu would open opportunities to cater offices or business parties.
“My advice is to definitely do your research, be open, and have a great time. Enjoy the ride,” says Naazir. “Getting into any kind of business, you want to really research every aspect of it. If someone’s trying to join Eggsmart or any other network, you’d want to meet a whole bunch of franchisees and people from head office to get a pulse on what makes them unique, what are their challenges, where do they see their brand in the next 10 years.”
He adds, “The biggest key would be to get mentors within the franchising network. I’ve truly benefitted from some great franchisees passing on their wisdom, thoughts, and best practices that really enabled me to streamline my operations. At the end of the day, the dream is to not even be in the building, and everything runs like clockwork. That would be the true goal.”
As many have heard before, entering a franchise agreement is a lot like a marriage, and requires both a commitment and an open mind to changes and fluctuations on the fly.
“If you’re someone who’s very structured, you have to have that willingness to being open to the evolving environment where everything is changing constantly,” Naazir adds. “You should understand that if you become a business owner, your life is definitely about to change.”