Where some may have seen risk, Poonam and Ronak Manek saw opportunity. As the first franchisees of 810 Billiards & Bowling, they’ve benefitted from a founder and corporate office they say are deeply committed to their success. Mike Siniscalchi, founder and CEO of 810 Bowling, “may be more invested than us,” said Ronak.
The couple became interested in franchising after selling their Chicago-area pharmacy. Ronak, who had been working in the business as the sole pharmacist, was excited to enter an industry that didn’t require his daily presence. But they didn’t want to dive into something new on their own. They wanted a franchiser who would support them.
Also at the top of their list: moving to Arizona. Drawn by the warm weather and beautiful scenery, the Maneks had always wanted to move to the state. And time was running out. Their two children—ages 6 and 10—would soon be too old to transplant easily.
After a thorough investigation of everything from restaurants to preschools to used clothing franchises, the couple decided to franchise with 810 Bowling. According to Ronak, they came very close to franchising with Theory Preschool, another brand that had no franchisees at the time, but were won over by Siniscalchi.
The Maneks also mentioned that 810 Bowling projected lower start-up costs and a higher return on investment than Theory Preschool did. Per the franchise disclosure document, the investment range for a new 810 Billiards & Bowling location is $1,427,500 to $2,917,000. The company’s three corporate-owned locations reported average revenue of $1,580,950 and average profit of $324,174 for 2020.
Siniscalchi says he’s prepared to hold his franchisee’s hands if they want it. For the Maneks, that involved location scouting, construction and budgeting support, and sitting in on hiring interviews, among other things.
Brand alignment and basic numbers sense are the most important things 810 Bowling looks for in potential franchisees. According to Siniscalchi, specific business experience isn’t a requirement. A former options trader, Siniscalchi had negligible business experience when he opened the first 810 Bowling location.
The Maneks signed their franchise agreement in October 2019. They signed their lease in May 2020, but construction was almost immediately delayed, both by material shortages and COVID-related tenant disputes. They were frustrating at the time, but the Maneks now see the delays as a blessing in disguise. Better to wait a few weeks for lumber than open a restaurant in the throes of the pandemic.
The Maneks’ Chandler, Arizona, location will open in June 2021. The opening aligns neatly with the end of local mask mandates.
According to Poonam, both she and Ronak are working on the franchise full time. They’re self-financing the business and supporting themselves with the help of rental income from a Phoenix-area investment property.
Siniscalchi was instrumental in finding their location, says Ronak. He says the location “easily meets” the brand’s minimum requirements of 70,000 people in a trade area and a median household income of at least $47,000.
In the process of scouting locations, Siniscalchi identified a former Lucky Strike bowling alley in downtown Phoenix as an excellent spot for a corporate location. The Maneks are excited to have corporate neighbors. They see it as a sign of the company’s investment in the area.
All 810 Bowling locations feature a full-service bar and restaurant, bowling and games. The Maneks’ location will feature 12 lanes, five billiards tables, shuffleboard, darts and an arcade.
Siniscalchi is a former franchisee himself. In 2016 he signed a deal to open up to 12 Philly Pretzel Factory locations in South Carolina. However, he says the brand didn’t offer him enough support, and he was frustrated at their seeming indifference to his success. He only opened two locations, both of which are now closed.
There are three 810 Billiards & Bowling locations, all corporate-owned and all in South Carolina. In addition to the two in Arizona, the company is working on a corporate-owned location in Houston and franchises in Greenville, South Carolina, and Fort Smith, Arkansas.