The Great Steak Story
How two brothers’ shared love of the cheesesteak became America’s Premier Cheesesteak sandwich franchise
How did the regional cheesesteak get to be one of the hottest sandwiches on the American cultural landscape? To answer that, we’ll have to go back to 1982, when two brothers from Ohio traveled to Philadelphia and fell in love with the cheesesteak. Determined to spread the joy of thinly sliced sirloin steak and melted cheese pressed into a French roll baked in-house, the brothers founded the Great Steak & Potato Company™ in Ohio. Now known simply as Great Steak, its menu has grown from a single cheesesteak to a complete line of specialty sandwiches, fries and baked potatoes.
Our recipe for generating customer loyalty is based on authenticity. Invented in Philadelphia, the cheesesteak is an American original that’s become a tradition. At Great Steak™, we make our cheesesteaks with only the finest American ingredients, from the specially cut and marinated beef to our freshly baked bread. Grilled to perfection, it’s a genuine slice of homegrown comfort food.
“Cheesesteaks are a category of their own,” says Walter Mejia, Vice President of Operations of Great Steak. “It’s the quintessential American sandwich, which at its best features the simple ingredients of the original found in Philadelphia: thinly sliced sirloin steak and melted cheese cooked quickly on a griddle and then placed on a lightly toasted French roll — which is soft enough to soak up the juices. It’s relatable and easy to understand, and once you’ve had a Great Steak cheesesteak, you’re hooked for life.”
Walter knows what he’s talking about. Though he currently serves as Vice President of Operations, Walter got started with Great Steak as a teenager in 1988; he worked as a crew member in a location in Los Angeles, California. When he retires from his current role, Walter’s dream is to open a Great Steak sandwich franchise of his own and work the griddle every day.
“I think that the reason Great Steak is what it is today is because we don’t ask our franchisees to do what I haven’t done myself,” he says. “Great Steak is an easy-to-run business with low overhead and a simple menu, but all of that would be meaningless if our cheesesteaks were subpar. I’m passionate about our food, and I share this passion with our network of franchisees and our brand’s rapidly growing customer base.”
Great Steak is led by an experienced executive team with brands in growing sandwich franchise systems
The Great Steak executive team has designed two business models that are easy to operate and don’t require a background in the restaurant industry. We leverage the power of our parent company, Kahala Brands™, to source the finest and freshest ingredients to keep hungry customers satisfied. In addition, Great Steak provides extensive training in every aspect of running a profitable business, as well as training you to teach your team how to provide the best classic American cheesesteak experience in your community.
“People who love cheesesteaks really love Great Steak,” says John Wuycheck, Senior Vice President of Kahala Brands. “If a franchisee brings the confidence and enthusiasm for great tasting cheesesteaks, we can teach them the cheesesteak business. Our training process maps out our simple in-store operations — they rely on attention to detail, which makes for great-tasting cheesesteaks every time a customer walks in through the doors. We can help first-time restaurant owners develop their skills in the underserved market of cheesesteak lovers in America and beyond.”
One of the biggest positives in franchising with Great Steak is that you get the support of Kahala Brands, a global franchisor that specializes in growing the 20 QSR brands in its portfolio, including Cold Stone® Creamery, Blimpie®, Pinkberry® (in the U.S. only), and Planet Smoothie®, to name a few. Kahala Brands’ success is reflected in its annual systemwide sales of nearly $735 million, and in its 3,000-plus locations in 28 countries around the world.
“Franchising with Kahala Brands gives our franchisees access to a vertically integrated system of support that includes everything from marketing, distribution, real-estate, trademarks, IT services including POS systems, managed IT services, and much, much more,” says Jeff Smit, Chief Operating Officer of Kahala Brands. “Great Steak franchisees are supported every day, from the rolling out of limited-time offerings, to training, to professional help with business plans, to how to effectively market in their communities to grow their customer base. This allows our franchisees to focus on what they do best: giving our brand’s customers the best cheesesteak experience that can be found anywhere.”
A bright future for a worthy brand
Great Steak is a low-cost investment opportunity with high potential returns; the initial investment for traditional stores ranges from $150,900 to $519,050. Having sold millions of cheesesteaks since our founding in 1982, Great Steak has a proven business model for entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing the classic American cheesesteak experience to their communities. The franchise fee for your first traditional Great Steak franchise is $30,000, and the franchise fee for multiple units may be discounted if certain conditions and criteria are met.