FIVE new Pot Belly Pies outlets have opened across Northern NSW since the start of this calendar year and one of them, in Queen St, Grafton, is the first franchise in what the owners hope will become a national empire.
What began as a single store in Yamba in 2008, followed by a Maclean store in 2009, has blossomed into a full-blown seven-outlet operation with savoury pies being baked in two large commercial bakeries (Evans Head and Gunnedah) which also have retail outlets. The remaining stores are in Byron Bay, Woodburn and Glen Innes.
Franchise opportunities are now available for either heat- and-serve-style operations, such as the one in Grafton, or combined bakery/retail outlets aimed at supplying other outlets in nearby areas.
Mark Radford is one of three owners of the rapidly growing business and says fellow owner David Keogh (former rep of Ocean Fresh, seafood suppliers to Pot Belly Pies) first fell in love with the pie at Yamba and then asked the previous owners if they wanted to sell.
Mr Radford, Mr Keogh and David Hartly took over the business from Irene Johnson and two other partners just over a year ago and Ms Johnson remains on as the group's sweet pie chef.
The Examiner couldn't contact Bronwyn Marks, of Yamba, who set up the Yamba store in 2008 with her husband at the time. They had previously set up a shop named Pot Belly Pies in South Australia.