Franchising has been a lifelong passion for Cal State Fullerton marketing alumnus Ryan Feghali ’12, who, with his family, leads Cedars Group, which manages fast food franchise locations throughout California and Arizona, with plans for further expansion in the future.
Proud Lebanese Americans, the Feghalis are also active in helping people in the capital city of Beirut recover from the devastating Aug. 4, 2020, explosion that displaced more than 300,000 people.
Ryan Feghali talks about his career journey, the joys of franchising and how you can help the people of Beirut.
You own and operate multiple Little Caesars and Jersey Mike’s locations. How did you and your partners get into the franchise business?
My father and his brothers became Little Caesars franchisees in 1986. As soon as I could see over the counter, I was working in his stores and learning the business. I went to CSUF and studied marketing. After earning my B.A., I did a stint in advertising and then pursued my MBA from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego and transitioned into finance and investments at a San Diego firm. Knowing my calling was always entrepreneurship, I finally left to chase my dreams and follow in my father’s footsteps by purchasing my first Little Caesars Pizza franchise location. This was the best decision I have made and have expanded to 10 Little Caesars and one Jersey Mike’s Subs locations, spanning both California and Arizona.
The Cedars Group has grown from a single location in Ridgecrest to 11 stores, and there are plans for continued growth. Where do you see the business going in the next five to 10 years?
We just acquired three additional locations in Imperial County, which we took over at the beginning of October. We take a lot of pride in our operations and people and attribute those two things to our success. We have an amazing team, and we have been very fortunate acquiring good stores and making them even better. We have set some aggressive benchmarks for our growth, and so far, we have been able to meet them. We have about 15 locations in the pipeline for development or acquisition that we plan on moving forward with in the next few years. Our ultimate plan is to grow by at least 10 stores each year going forward.
What advice would you give to Titans interested in franchise opportunities?
I have actually been approached by many Titans asking for more information on franchising. I am always willing to give them my input and help them out. I like the franchise model because the parts of the business I’m less interested in, such as developing recipes, are done by professionals on the corporate level. We also receive a ton of support from our franchisor as it pertains to marketing, location search, promotions and operations. This allows us to focus on the parts of the business that we like, such as operations, growth, local marketing, community involvement, and growing and elevating our team. As far as getting started, I think if someone is able to find an opportunity or absence of a concept in their community and the demographics align with what the franchise’s target demographics are, they should inquire directly to the franchisor to learn more.
What is one highlight from your time at CSUF as an undergrad?
One particular highlight would be in 2010, when my fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau (The Barn), won CSUF’s Greek Week alongside the Gamma Phi sorority. The week of festivities, the hard work we all put in, the money raised for charity and the ultimate victory will be engraved in my mind forever.
You and your family have spearheaded a relief effort for the victims of the August explosion in Beirut in your native Lebanon. What motivated you and your family to help out? How can CSUF Titans be a part of the relief effort?
The blast in Beirut was devastating to the country. Luckily, all of my friends and family in Beirut are safe. However, there was so much destruction, and I continue to hear sad stories of family friends’ businesses and homes destroyed. As soon as we heard the news, my sister spearheaded an effort on GoFundMe to raise money for the well-trusted ALPI Charity, which we know would help families in this crucial time. We were able to raise over $15,000 through our networks. Organizations like the Lebanese Red Cross or ALPI are still accepting donations, which would be the best way for Titans to be part of the relief effort.