Zoup! Fresh Soup Company

Franchisee Profiles

Meet our franchisees and see how Zoup! has impacted their lives.

Paul Diaz

Multi-Unit Franchise Owner Paul Diaz Has Three Top-Performing Locations and a Plan to Keep Growing

After more than 20 years in management at two, large waste and recycling companies, franchise owner Paul Diaz was ready for a change. When he discovered Zoup! in 2007 during a visit to Michigan, he was immediately impressed. "I thought the concept was outstanding. And, I liked the fact that it was proven, but still small enough that I could take it to a new market and really grow it," he says.

Paul had worked in the food business in high school and recognized that Zoup! was a fairly simple concept to implement. And, after spending his career at large companies, he was accustomed to following procedures and working with systems. "I wanted to learn from a franchisor that could teach me everything I needed to know to open and run the business," he said. "I wasn't interested in designing a space or choosing décor; I just wanted to benefit from the expertise of someone who had done it, and done it successfully."

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As for his specific goals, Paul wanted to leverage the Zoup! brand to build a company and develop a strong management team so he could oversee the business. He also had a financial goal. "I plan to open additional stores without having to go to a lender," he says, "using only the capital of the business."

Colleen Hopkins

From CFO to Restaurant Owner, Colleen Hopkins Made the Leap and Never Looked Back

Before becoming a Zoup! franchise owner, Colleen Hopkins had spent her career in finance, most recently as CFO at an insurance company. That detail, however, didn't deter her from choosing Zoup! as her path to business ownership. "I had been thinking about making a career change when a friend suggested that I check out Zoup!," she says, "and when I did, I was sold."

Specifically, Colleen liked the healthy menu; the comfortable, casual vibe; and the uniqueness of a menu with 12 rotating daily soups. "Like Zoup!'s creators, I've always felt that really good soup is hard to find. When I saw how successfully they had tapped into that market niche, I knew they were on to something," says Hopkins. "And, I knew I wanted to be part of it."

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In April 2011, Hopkins opened her first location in Westlake, OH, and then followed with restaurants in Avon and Rocky River. According to Hopkins, "Discovering Zoup! was one of those 'you-had-me-at-hello moments' and I couldn't be happier with my choice."

Daryl Hunter

First International Franchise Owner Now Has Three Locations and Time for Family

When Daryl Hunter began looking for a business opportunity, one of his main goals was to eliminate the heavy travel schedule required by his position as a software consultant. He wanted a career and a lifestyle that would allow time for family.

Little did he know how important family time would become. Or, how quickly fate would set him on a course to open his first Zoup! location (in Waterloo, Ontario) in June 2011…and become the father of triplets only eight days later.

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Daryl says he got through that period with a lot of help from others, "I have a great assistant manager. And, the Zoup! Business Office team pitched in onsite, first with the opening and a second time just to offer support while I helped care for the premature babies."

Following the success of his Waterloo location, Daryl opened a second store in nearby Kitchener, Ontario in June 2013. Later that same month he was awarded the "Passion for the Brand" award at the Annual Zoup! Franchise Reunion. Not long after, he added a third location, this one in London, Ontario.

Daryl was initially intrigued by the Zoup! concept because he was interested in quality foodservice, but not in the bar business or late-night hours. After visiting the company's Southfield, MI location, he was sold. "I was very impressed with the quality of the food and the overall experience," says Daryl. "There was a specialness that just felt right."

Daryl says he was particularly excited about bringing a fast-casual concept to Canada, "Fast-casual dining is new here, and the cold climate makes Zoup! a really good fit. Also, I have to admit that having the first Canadian Zoup! has been really cool."

Diane and Steve Crnokrak

Husband-Wife Team Brings Zoup! to Their Indiana Hometown

As first-time franchise owners, Diane and Steve Crnokrak credit Zoup!'s support for the success of their Highland, Indiana location. "We broke the brand's grand opening sales record," says Steve. "We had such a crazy response—we couldn't keep up with the number of people coming through the door. It was an incredible start, and the sign we needed to confirm that our investment in Zoup! was the right choice," he added.

After spending 25 years working in the finance industry in downtown Chicago, internal changes and downsizing left Steve at a career crossroads. Too young to retire, he began researching new business opportunities—that's when he came across Zoup! Eager to experience the brand, he traveled to the nearest restaurant and immediately fell in love with the concept's selection and quality of homemade soups.

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By May 2015, he signed his franchise agreement with the brand, and by October 2016, the Crnokraks officially opened their doors. Both Diane and Steve agree that Zoup!'s unique concept is what drew them to the brand. With 12 rotating soups every day, customers can always look forward to trying something new.

According to the Crnokraks, the best part about their new business adventure has been the exciting learning process they've experienced along the way. And, based on the success of their first restaurant, they're already considering opening another. "There's still so much more to learn about running this business, and that's what excites us the most," Steve said. "Our experience so far has been nothing but positive, and we're looking forward to what the future holds for us and for Zoup!"

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