Durham, NH—Franz’s Food is thriving just seven months after Gov. Chris Sununu’s mandated closure of non-essential businesses in New Hampshire. Owner Franz Guest shows why success remains at this Main Street gem during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Many N.H. businesses suffered following the assigned isolation of Emergency Order #17 on March 27. University of New Hampshire (UNH) students were sent home on March 30—a large source of town revenue lost. The state’s economy is still suffering according to Russ Thibeault, the president of Applied Economic Research, Inc.
Franz’s Food, however, has experienced the opposite.
“My business really took off during the recession,” said Guest. “Places like mine do very well during economic downturns.”
Franz’s Food has continued with takeout service throughout the pandemic.
Guest believes that Franz’s Food is prospering because of its location on Main Street. He also credits the community’s desire to visit a familiar niche during uncertain times.
“I like the idea of a community coming together when things are rough,” said Guest.
“[Guest] is all about building trust with customers and delivering a quality product,” said Roger Hayden, landlord and owner of Hayden Sports. Guest described him as the backbone of business in Durham for the last 20 years.
“I couldn’t ask for a better tenant!” said Hayden. “We really work as a team in the building; if he is successful, I will be successful, and vice versa—we work together to solve problems.”
Hayden and the customers notice daily that Guest keeps the shop exceedingly clean.
Employee Harry Clark noted that it is a very controlled environment.
“I really want to make Franz’s Food … a good vibe,” said Guest. “Luckily for me, I like what I do, and I like the people.”
Guest said that former college students return to Franz’s Food with their family almost every week, “That kind of stuff is very gratifying. There’s no money that buys this.”
“Franz’s is an institution at UNH,” said Clark. “I think everyone goes there at least once, and there’s too many regulars to count.”
“His impact is obvious every day he is open; dozens of people of all walks of life come in, from kids to grandparents!” Hayden said. “They know quality is tops and service fast.”
Guest learned early on in his career that people don’t stop by because they don’t have food at home, but rather to make connections.
Frequent customer and UNH student Cristiano Bianchi said that Guest recognizes him whenever he visits, “the relationship is a professional one.”
“Almost on a daily basis, I have people come in and tell me how much they appreciate what I do and the food that I make,” said Guest. “It’s really nice to be recognized for what you do when you work very hard.”
Guest bends over backwards to make his employees happy because they represent the business. He believes that great teamwork is practically a prerequisite. He’s made some lifelong friends with former employees along the way.
Clark said that he gets along well with Guest and often converses with him outside of work.
“[Guest] is friendly, efficient, accurate and timely with his food orders,” said Hayden. “He could be the poster child for how to succeed in business.”
Guest recalled a proud moment when a customer told him that five employees were making food faster than anything they had ever seen, while singing and dancing. He said, “That’s my best compliment ever.”
Guest said many of his employees are amazed at how efficient and high quality their workplace is, despite the size.
“I’m impressed with just how much food we pump out from such a small place,” said Clark.
According to the Franz’s Food website, Guest chose the inside of the Durham Laundercenter because the location on Main Street was very good.
“My first impression of the business wasn’t too stunning,” Bianchi admitted. “It was such a small closed off area of the laundromat.”
Bianchi continued, “What kept me coming back was the ‘JB’. My eyes had been opened to such exquisite breakfast cuisine.”
The Franz’s Food menu describes the “JB” as a grilled flour tortilla filled with two fried eggs, bacon, American cheese and two hash browns with ketchup.
Hayden said the JB was the favorite of a past customer, and that the sandwich has evolved into an entire menu itself.
“There is no better hangover cure than a ‘JB’ and a Gatorade,” Bianchi said.
Hayden believes that Franz’s Food demonstrates why small-town campuses are unique.
“Franz is certainly an important member of the community,” said Bianchi. “He has made a name for himself as one of the quintessential staples of the small businesses of Durham.”
“Franz is truly an icon in town,” said Hayden. “I trust he is in for the long haul.”
Photo Courtesy of Durham Business Association