Ex-NBA great Shaquille O’Neal to drive SoupMobile franchising program

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal will lead the franchising of the food truck business of Soupman Inc. (OTCQB: SOUP), the parent company of ‘the best-tasting soup brand in the world’, The Original Soupman, announced on Tuesday.

O’Neal, a joint venture partner and strategic advisor to Soupman, will be at the forefront of the company’s plan to roll out 100 SoupMobile trucks across America over the next five years, said Lloyd Sugarman, CEO of Soupman, Inc., in a press release.

“This Original Soupman mobile franchise is a low-cost, branded business opportunity that we believe is perfect for dedicated, passionate operators including veterans,” Sugarman said.

“The combination of our brand’s strength, the food truck trend, and the fact that this is a low-cost franchise business, should make the SoupMobile a one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity, which is what drew Shaquille and I to the business,” explains Marcus Crawford of Amongst Elite LLC, formerly with the Original Soupman.

Combining one of the hottest new trends in the culinary world — food trucks — with the highly marketable Soupman brand, O’Neal, Crawford and the Soupman Inc. management team are optimistic about the new growth channel. Food trucks generated $1.5 billion in revenue between 2007 and 2012, an average annual growth rate of 8.4 percent.

The SoupMobile is already giving Soupman the needed market exposure as the food truck draws gourmets at every stops in major cities lately.

The first official SoupMobile launched in New Jersey and currently serves food truck goers in Old Bridge and Newark. The Original Soupman New Jersey truck has future plans of serving the students of Rutgers University as well as foodies in Jersey City. It feature’s the company’s world-renowned soups including Lobster Bisque, Chicken Gumbo, Crab Corn Chowder and the Seinfeld classic, Jambalaya.

For a decade before the famous Seinfeld episode in 1995 that featured the soup brand, thousands of people were lining up outside Al Yeganeh’s tiny location on West 55th Street in Manhattan for his magical soups. Yeganeh made the recipe for the soup. Consumers should now have additional The Original Soupman locations to visit, only these are expected to be coming to a neighborhood.

The SoupMobile serves soups in cups, bowls or quarts, and as meals or a la carte, along with artisanal bread or oyster crackers, fresh fruit and the Soupman’s signature piece of chocolate. Also on its menu are Al’s Famous New England styled Lobster rolls, featuring gonzo-sized chunks of North American lobster, and delicious, convenient and hearty Rice Bowls. Additionally, the SoupMobile offers an array of smoothies and beverages, including an extensive assortment of hot and cold teas.

The Soupman trucks stopped in Atlantic City to cater to crowds at local state fairs and theme parks in April and May. And in a non-profit trip, the Soup Mobile also made its way to Baltimore for a hunger-relief mission, which is part of Yeganeh’s personal campaign to feed the hungry.

The Original SoupMan was also selected as one of New York’s iconic brands to be served during the Super Bowl XLVIII games at the MetLife Stadium in January and February without paying the $4 million advertising fee. In exchange for the publicity at the biggest event on TV, the Soup Mobile served for free the SoupMan’s Famous Lobster Bisque to VIPs and NFL fans as well as to the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football team at Codey Stadium in New Jersey, which co-hosted the games.

In the franchising program, the SoupMobile will be offered for $100,000 of which $15,000 is for the rights to the franchise model, while $85,000 is for the truck lease. As more franchisees avail of the Soup Mobile, the company will be able to increase its market share in the fast-growing food truck industry. More information about The Original Soupman franchise opportunities are available at http://originalsoupman.com/about-us/franchise-information.

From an annual growth rate of 8.4 percent, the industry is predicted to grow by 12.4 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence provider. This year, the industry is predicted to post a 4.4 percent revenue growth or $803.8 million compared in the past five years. It is also forecast to grow in the next five years due to the growing household incomes and changing consumer preferences toward healthy and gourmet cuisine.

Food trucks have captured a solid customer base in novelty-seeking consumers for their trendy food offerings—mostly gourmet soups and sandwiches to fusion cuisine items—which consumers only get to sample in the confines of niche restaurants. According to a survey by research and consulting firm Technomic, some 26 percent of Americans claimed they have visited a food truck during the past six months in 2010, even if most of the trucks were located in “few big cities.”

Mobi Munch co-founder Aaron Noveshen has predicted that about 10 percent of the top 200 restaurant franchises will be sending out their own versions of mobile trucks in the next two years.

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