Entrepreneur Uncovers Opportunity with Purchase of Three Existing Restaurants

William (Bill) Horton purchased not one, but three Ohio Zoup! restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He started with Zoup! North Canton in July 2020 and quickly moved to take ownership of Zoup! Solon by September 2020.  Horton drew such success that he acquired a third Zoup! just 8 months later in Warrensville Heights, OH. With face masks in tow, we visited Bill at his North Canton Zoup! location to learn more about why this long-time restaurateur chose to purchase two Zoup! locations during a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Why Zoup!?

“Before Zoup!, I worked in the restaurant industry for 25 years. I enjoyed the experiences from working in multiple franchises as well as small family businesses. The restaurant industry provided me with many learning opportunities. I like to learn anything and everything about a concept and then enjoy teaching that knowledge to others. From this history and experience, I knew I wanted to own my own restaurant” says Horton.

“…at Zoup! it’s not just about the food, but the people as well”

“I was attracted to Zoup! for a few reasons. I was already looking at pre-existing restaurant opportunities, and I have a personal interest and truly believe in Zoup!. The combination of a small business and a franchise gives me the opportunity to accomplish my personal goals while furthering another company’s long term goals. I also like how here at Zoup! it’s not just about the food but about the people as well. All interaction [between team members, managers, owners and corporate] falls back upon and supports one another. Also, the values of Zoup! align with my belief system as an individual, and the connection between the two is really what hooked me.” – WH

how do you manage your days?

“I had years and years of prior experience in the restaurant industry, and a history of developing and excelling pre-existing locations. Additionally, the Zoup! Support Center team gave me all the information and training I needed to be successful in both of my locations.”

“The biggest difference between managing and owning a restaurant, I’d say would be that as an owner, I have to focus more on my time management. I usually begin my day working on improving the restaurants, then spend my afternoon working inside the restaurants. I do a lot of coordinating and managing training at the store level. Then at night, I get back to working on ways to improve my restaurants.” – WH

why did you choose this location?

“The city of Canton is unique because it is an internalized city. It’s a huge shopping destination because everything is all in one place. This means that there is lots of competition, but with that also comes lots of potential and a dynamic group of customers.”Horton’s third Zoup! is located a brisk 40 miles away in Warrensville Heights, OH.

“When I first walked into the Canton location, the first thing I noticed was the personality from the employees. They greeted me and made me feel comfortable right away. I was sitting in this same exact spot as I am now when I decided to take ownership of the Canton Zoup!. I loved the atmosphere and saw an opportunity to make that the focus of this restaurant. My goal is for every customer who walks in the door of either of my locations to feel like the most important thing on earth. That’s something I’ve strongly pushed on my team members and we have excelled at.” – WH

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Horton’s Take on Opening Two Locations Mid-Pandemic

Why did you Purchase three locations mid-pandemic?

“I purchased my North Canton location in July and Solon in September. There were only a few months in-between but my team members from North Canton along with two of my kids, Julie and Michael, helped get my Solon location up and running. COVID is a challenge just like any other – any business in the world has challenges come up. The goal is to see where you can position yourself in the new picture. Everything constantly changes, this is nothing new, you have to learn to adapt and find ways to thrive under those new circumstances. I’m very excited to be coming into Zoup! at a time of rebranding with the new Zoup! Eatery look. I will be remodeling both locations with the new look very soon and can’t wait to share it with all our guests.” – WH

How Were you able to HirE & train during these new conditions?

“Hiring employees was different because what used to be important in job-searching has changed. People are more concerned about their safety in regards to contact with customers and their changing needs based on COVID. Regulations posed challenges for training new employees. It was crucial to have a reliable team who were very interested in working together to achieve something unique in the times we are in. I had to find a way to make this smaller team feel safe, as well as find ways to alleviate the lack of employees (to help train, cover shifts, etc) when first taking over. It has taken quite a bit of work and flexibility but we’ve found a way through this pandemic that gets everyone what they need while feeling welcome, safe, and protected as part of the Zoup! family.” – WH

building a legacy

“Something I mentioned earlier is my desire to learn anything and everything about my niche, and my youngest daughter Julie shares that desire. Julie is currently training to be a manager at Zoup! She has shown initiative in learning everything about Zoup! as she is very interested in becoming an entrepreneur herself.” – WH

It takes a special person to tackle the commitment and uncertainty of purchasing and running three businesses during a pandemic. After hearing Bill’s story, it’s clear that he is the perfect guy for the job. He saw an exciting opportunity that couldn’t be missed and would benefit his family and community for years to come. We’re so glad to have Bill as part of the Zoup! family and proud of his dedication to the Zoup! brand.

Zoup! North Canton is located at 4898 Portage Street NW in North Canton, OH. Zoup! Solon is located at 30050 Aurora Rd. in Solon, Ohio. Zoup! Warrensville Heights is located at 4025 Richmond Road
Warrensville Heights, OH.

To learn more about franchising opportunities with Zoup!, download our free franchise guide below or contact Richard Zimmer at rzimmer@zoupco.com or call 800-940-9687 ext. 4

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2020 but has since been updated.