Fast-Casual Chain Freshii to Waive Fee for a Franchisee if Cubs Win the Series

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Freshii is eager to cash in on Cubs fever with a new franchisee.

Nearly everyone in Chicago (on the North Side at least -- sorry, White Sox fans), is rooting for the Cubs this year. As the postseason gets underway, Freshii is trying to find a Cubs fan who also wants to open one of its shops.

The chain, which focuses on items such as rice bowls, burritos and salads, is having a little fun by offering to waive its $30,000 franchise fee for one person. The catch? The offer only holds if that person is a Chicago Cubs fan and if the Cubs win the World Series.

"If (read: when) the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series, Freshii will give away one free franchise location to a franchise partner new to the system," Freshii said in a statement Wednesday.

The chain, which is actually from Toronto but calls Chicago home to its U.S. headquarters, does not have an affiliation with the Cubs. It does not sell its items at Wrigley Field, where baseball fans are more likely to buy hot dogs, sausage, Italian beef sandwiches and pizza than quinoa and kale.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team has no official connection with Freshii.

"I suspect there are many companies that find creative ways to leverage the success of the team's on-field performance this year with their customers," Mr. Green said in a statement to Ad Age. "Like all sports teams, our goal is to protect our marks and the rights of partners who pay significant amounts of money to officially activate their brands on and off the field. So before companies to decide to use their creative juices they should consider partnership opportunities. It is the best and safest way to ensure a company is not infringing on our name, marks or likeness."

The idea came from David Grossman, who became Freshii's first franchise partner more than eight years ago and owns the development rights to Freshii in the Chicagoland area.

Freshii said the winner would "be a lifelong Cubs devotee" who meets its standard criteria for franchisees who could open a location near Wrigley Field. The winner would not have to pay the $30,000 franchise fee, but would be responsible for other costs.

Clearly, Freshii is not the only business rooting for the Cubs. Mark Evans, senior VP-sales strategy for Fox Sports, told the Chicago Tribune that the Cubs continuing to play would be a big boost for ad revenue. It would also be a big win for the local affiliate, an executive said.

It's not the first time Freshii has tried a unique way to find new franchisees. Earlier this year, the company's founder wrote an open letter to frozen yogurt and juice franchisees offering them the chance to switch to Freshii.

The Cubs are not the only local team Freshii is rooting for. The brand has a promotion this season at Northwestern University home football games, giving spectators the chance to score some free items. But those fans are not feeling as optimistic as Cubs fans this year. The Wildcats are 1-3 in home games so far this season.

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