Javier Gomez receives the Franchisee of the Year Award, recognizing outstanding owner-operators of franchised establishments, at the 62nd Annual International Franchise Association Awards in San Diego.
Written by Ben Hensley
Capriotti franchise owner Javier Gomez received the International Franchise Association (IFA) award for franchisee of the year on March 3 in San Diego.
This award is given to franchisees who exemplify at least one of the IFA’s “Open for Opportunity” core pillars of Community, Workforce, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Alumni. fighters.
Capriotti’s, a national sandwich shop selling roast beef sandwiches, cheese steaks and the famous “Bobbie,” opened in Fresno in April 2021, bringing about 20 new jobs to the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gomez, who also owns 12 Rally restaurants throughout the Central Valley, has quickly become a rising star in Capriotti’s franchise system.
“These local business owners, like Javier, represent some of the best entrepreneurs in the country,” said IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller. “We are proud to recognize their contributions to their communities, their employees and all those they serve.”
Gomez was born in Mexico and came with his family to the United States when he was 4 years old.
“When I started 33 years ago with Rally’s, I started with lower management at the store level,” Gomez said.
From there he was promoted through the ranks, eventually moving to Fresno as a rally location manager.
In 2000, he was appointed district director.
This is Gomez’s first Capriotti franchise, and for Gomez, the decision to open a Capriotti’s was based primarily on quality.
“It was the quality of the food,” he said. “It comes in the form of a frozen turkey; we bake it overnight, take it out in the morning, shred it, and it’s our meat for the sandwich shop that day.
Jose Padilla, district manager of Rally’s and Capriotti restaurants, praises Gomez’s family work atmosphere and passion.
“It’s an honor to work with him,” Padilla said. “He’s a great leader, but not only that, he’s a great mentor.”
The two met in 2000, and Padilla says working with Gomez not only creates a great business atmosphere, but also a great family atmosphere.
“I now have my general managers and what I’ve learned from Javier is what I’m trying to implement in my stores,” he said.
Gomez added, “That’s what community is. We’re not in a position where everyone knows everyone’s names,” he explained, due to the ever-growing staff size, “[but] many of us, if you tell them their last name, you could probably link it to someone else.
Gomez has also worked with several non-profit organizations. It has supported little league teams, golf tournaments, and along with Rally stores, the company makes an annual donation to the Central California Food Bank.
When raising money for the food bank, 50 cents from every Big Buford sold went to the food bank.
The Fresno store, located at 5058 N. Palm Avenue in the Fig Garden Village mall, is a bustling spot, according to Gomez.
“The foot traffic here is incredible,” he said. “People use this area for walking; it’s not too big, but it’s not too small.
The Fig Garden location won’t be Capriotti’s only Fresno location for long, however, with plans to open another store within a few months in River Park, and two more stores are also in the works.
The other sites hope to be open by the end of the year, with the River Park site planning to open this summer.
“Javier embodies all the qualities that not only make a fantastic franchise partner, but also a wonderful human being,” said Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s. “We couldn’t be prouder of his accomplishments and we can’t wait to see where his journey takes him.”
As for Gomez personally, he says his favorite part of running franchises is seeing the growth of his employees.
“When I came here 22 years ago, I had general managers that I promoted. [at Rally’s] Now their kids are working for us and our general managers are still here,” Gomez said.
“That’s community,” he added. “If you work hard at what you love, the reward will be the reward you get in the end.”