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The twelfth largest franchise owner in the United States, Ed Doherty, has gone through the hard knocks of franchise life.The now chairman and CEO of Doherty Enterprises Inc., which owns 61 Applebee's, 30 Panera Breads and other restaurants in New York and New Jersey left as an executive with Marriott Corp's Big Boy division in 1985 to become a Roy Rogers franchisee. Roy Rogers was the latest incarnation of the old Marriott Hot Shoppes Jr. fast food chain. Just a few years later, the franchisor of 650 burger outlets that he knew so well was bought out and subsequently mismanaged by the new owners to the point that the brand virtually disappeared.
Doherty and other Roy Rogers franchisees had a rude awakening in 1990 when Hardee's bought the concept from Marriott, he says. "The brand was hurt by Hardee's management, and ultimately all the Roy Rogers were closed down. I had hard conversations with the banks and sold out our leaseholds to Boston Market, McDonald's, and Burger King. One of the hardest things was to tell my managers that there would be no raises or bonuses, but I made them one guarantee: I would never lay them off and would make part of my deals with Boston Market and McDonald's the requirement that they be hired at the same salary. Over the process of three years, not one was laid off. I saw that as a moral obligation." [Read more of Ed Doherty and his story at Franchising.com]
There are 49 Roy Rogers restaurants today.