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Mountain Mike’s Franchise Review: Goldie Buttar, Fremont, CA

Multi-unit owner feels revitalized under new ownership, ready to expand with more Mountain Mike’s locations

Before opening his first Mountain Mike’s Pizza in 2002, Goldie Buttar had never even worked in a pizza place, much less owned one. Today, he owns five Mountain Mike’s franchises — three in Fremont, CA, one in Milpitas and one in Belmont — and is open to expanding further. In this Mountain Mike’s franchise review, Buttar shares his journey.

What were you doing before Mountain Mike’s?

I was a salesman in a jewelry business at the mall here in Fremont.

How did you find Mountain Mike’s? What made you think “I want to own one of those”?

My uncle used to own one in Brentwood, CA. They opened in 1994. And in 2002 this Fremont location was on sale and my uncle approached me and said, “Why don’t we take over this location, 50/50 partnership? Then, you can manage it because you have management experience.” I said, “Sure, let’s try it.”

How long did it take you to go from that to opening your second unit?

I opened the second in 2013.

I guess you’ve grown pretty quickly since then, comparatively.

Yes.

What made you think, “Hey, this is a good time to grow with this brand”?

In the last five or six years, our company, it’s been in good shape. The management is good, the new ownership is very aggressive, very good for business. They want to grow, they want the company to grow and all the franchisees to grow.

Do you have any plans right now to add even more units?

I am looking for another location, because these days, my target is to get cheaper rent, better rent and a better location. If I find any good locations, sure, yeah, I will open another.

I know your first unit was a resale. How many of your others have been pre-owned versus built from the ground up?

Actually I built three from the ground up, and two were pre-owned.

Would you do that again? Buy an existing business?

Yes.

What’s appealing about that Mountain Mike’s resale?

With the second Fremont location, the one I took over in 2013, that was doing average $38,000 to $40,000 a month in sales. Now, it’s doing significantly more. So that was really successful for me. I think the previous owner wasn’t following the franchise model. That makes a big difference.

What would you say is the most satisfying thing about owning Mountain Mike’s Pizza?

You have a flexible schedule, steady income, you don’t have to worry about getting laid off.

Why should someone choose Mountain Mike’s Pizza over another pizza franchise brand?

Because Mountain Mike’s is growing with great management, we have better quality pizza, and we have experienced support staff. They always help us. Even our Development Agents are there to help us, with lease papers and everything. I never hired an attorney for a lease or anything like that. The corporate staff is always there to help us. There’s support from every angle.

That’s fantastic. You came into this with just some retail experience, really, and you said, you know, Mountain Mike’s taught you everything. What do you think people need to be successful with Mountain Mike’s Pizza?

I will say hard work. You have to put your hours in when you start. Once your staff is all trained properly, then you can work less. Then it will work. But when we open or take over a new location, even now, I’m there open to close for at least a month.

You have five stores. As a multi-unit owner, what does your management structure look like? Do you have a general manager?

No, actually, I have only managers at each location. So if there was anything above their level, then I just handle it myself.

If you could be said to have a typical day, what would that look like?

In the morning, I call each location, each manager, and just ask them how’s their staff and how’s everything. If any location manager says, “I’m short a person today,” maybe somebody called in sick or something, I just go over there first. We manage somebody over there. Like, in the morning, I never have a plan on which location I’m going to be going to first. It just depends on where I’m needed.

So, are you in at least one of your stores every day?

Yes. At my first location, the one that I opened in 2002, if everything is smooth, if the other locations don’t need me, then I just go over there.

How close together are your stores?

Three locations are within a three-mile radius, and one is nine miles away and the fifth one is around 16, 17 miles.

How often do you interact with other franchise owners?

Somebody is calling me every week. Because I’ve been with Mountain Mike’s so long, most owners know me, so we talk to each other a lot. I serve on the COOP Board in the Bay Area.

Are you meeting your business goals as a Mountain Mike’s franchisee?

Yes, but, you know, I keep trying to beat those. There’s only one location, the one we just opened in November, that’s not reaching my goals yet, because it’s a new location. But my target is probably within another 6 to 8 months, we’re going to be reaching somewhere.

Knowing what you know now, if you were just starting out today, would you still become a Mountain Mike’s Pizza franchisee?

Yes. You know, like I said, from 2002 to 2013 I had just one location, and after 2013 I opened another four. Because our brand is strong, our quality is good, our leadership is great under the new owners, and they are going on the right path now. Our company is growing overall and has a very bright future. It’s more profitable now.

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