If one didn’t know better it would be easy to think that Jeff Sinelli is the type of entrepreneur who could be in two places at once. As the founder and creator of three distinct restaurant concepts by the age of 40, Sinelli is the quintessential risk taker.
Sinelli’s first national concept, Genghis Grill, a Mongolian barbecue chain, was sold in 2003. At the time of the sale there were 12 units with more than 30 in development.
But it was later that same year he launched another concept, Which Wich.
From the day the first Which Wich opened it gained national attention largely because of an innovative customer ordering system that is interactive. The menu features more than 50 varieties of customizable, toasted ‘wiches.’ The chain now numbers more than 112 units in 20 states with no end in sight. Sinelli started selling franchise rights in 2005.
His latest venture, Burguesa Burger, is a drive-thru hamburger chain that targets the Hispanic community. Sinelli says his creation ‘Is the first true Mexican burger chain serving authentic Mexican burgers.’
QSR Magazine has referred to Sinelli as a ‘branding phenom.’ And by his own admission he isn’t finished yet. ‘I don’t consider this work. I consider this play. And I am only getting started.’
If history is any judge that’s a statement you can bank on.
Title: Founder, president, and chief vibe officer (CVO)
Concepts founded: Genghis Grill, 1998; Which Wich, 2003; Burguesa Burger, 2009
Check averages: WW = $8.00, BB = $9.25
Hometown: Brighton, Michigan
Personal: Wife, Courtney; daughter, Story; Labradors, Genghis and Hampton
Newest venture: Which Wich R&D Test Kitchen
Number of units: 112 in 20 states (Which Wich); 4 in Texas (Burguesa Burger)
Plans for Which Wich: To build a respected and cared-about global sandwich brand that is magnetic to both customers and franchisees
Career highlights: Every day gets better than the day before…the real highlights are still to come
First restaurant job: Pizzeria at 16 yrs old…lasted two days, I ate a lot of pepperoni and cheese…probably more than my actual paycheck
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State and MBA from City University in Seattle
Best advice ever received: ‘Focus.’ (from his wife, Courtney)
Business philosophy: ‘Get in the game, and it will open up.’ (from his dad, Paul)
Hobbies: Running, yoga, tennis, golf, cycling, travel, and ‘hanging with the fam’
Last book read: Start Small Finish Big: Fifteen Key Lessons To Start—and Run—Your Own Successful Business, by Fred Deluca
See The Food Channel’s story about the making of all 51 Which Wich sandwiches by clicking here.
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