'Wich of the South

Two Texans ask, "what's easy to make but delicious to eat?" and find an answer in a sandwich shop.

This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Though Sharon and Tony Lacaze held executive positions at prestigious corporations, the couple had always dreamed of owning a business. It wasn't until last August, however, that the couple got serious. After exploring various options, the Lacazes decided to try their hand at franchising. They researched different industries and eventually narrowed their focus to sandwich stores. "Part of [the appeal] was the ease of it," Sharon says. "I'm not really a good cook, nor do I like to cook, so we were looking at [food] concepts that were easy, clean and efficient."

After testing numerous sandwich franchises in the Plano, Texas, area, they signed with Which Wich, a newer sandwich chain with locations throughout the southern U.S. that's known for its unique paper-bag ordering system. "Instead of going into a franchise that's been around for 50 years and is already very structured, we were excited to get in on the ground floor of something we think is going to be very big," Sharon says.

To become a Which Wich franchisee, Sharon, 42, quit her job of more than 10 years with a Fortune 500 company. Tony, also 42, took the position of vice president while he stayed on as vice president of operations at a publicly traded health-care company. "We have a lot of experience in running a big organization," Tony says. "So those skills were easily transferable."

Sharon agrees that the transition from corporate employee to franchisee was "very natural."

While the Which Wich franchise continues to grow nationally, the Lacazes are experiencing successes of their own: 2006 projected sales of $600,000 and plans to open 10 to 15 stores in the next few years.

"I'm probably the happiest I've ever been career-wise and work-wise," Sharon says. "My goal is for Which Wich to be so successful that [Tony] can join me full time, so he can have as much fun as I'm having."

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