HOW I DID IT • LAUNCH
tea company and sold it early. We saw
that everything we had worked for was
pretty quickly destroyed, and that motivated our desire to keep this under our
control. We don’t have pressure from
investors, and this allows us to stay true
to our core mission.
Our other main challenge has been
the supermarkets. We don’t have a
marketing budget. The grocery chains
want us to do promotions and discounts.
But our products sell very well without
them. It’s a bit of a fight. We say we’re
growing by double digits and the companies that spend money on marketing and
promotions are declining; we’re doing
We’re a small family. We’ve heard
stories of large families, and it gets very
complex regarding the next generation.
Amy is very involved in the sustainability
of the company and its culture. She and
her husband, both board members, are
dedicated to seeing Amy’s carry on. However, neither of them aspires to be a CEO
or to run the business right now. They
are interested in ensuring the culture, the
values, and the mission. We can’t bear
the thought of doing things di;erently.
→ WHEN WE OPENED, we really didn’t know if the concept would
work, but there was a line around the block. We just signed
a lease for our second location, in Marin County, and expect it
will open in 2018. We’ve had requests in every state in America
for an Amy’s Drive Thru. We’ve been expanding Amy’s Kitchen
internationally and it’s been successful, but when you consider
what the potential for the drive-thru is, it’s probably larger than
our retail business. We just hit a sweet spot.
→ THE QUESTION IS HO W TO DO THIS. We are ;guring
out the business model. We don’t think we’ll go the
traditional franchise route. There’s a lot of di;erent
ways to do this, and it may be bene;cial to have that
ownership as long as we do it a little di;erently from
the traditional format. And we’re putting together
a great team. But the thing is, opening a second
restaurant is like opening 20. It’s so much work,
and we’re not young anymore.
→ IN ;;;;, WE OPENED AM Y’S DRIVE THRU, in Rohnert
Park, California. For years, people had asked us to start
one. An employee ;rst suggested it 20 years ago. And
the letters just kept coming in from customers. They
would tell us there’s nowhere to bring their kids a;er
school. They didn’t want to feed them junk. Our menu
is veggie burgers, burritos, pizza, mac ‘n’ cheese,
milkshakes, lemonade, salads, and breakfast—it’s all
organic, there are no GMOs, and there are gluten-free
and vegan options. We were able to do this because
we’d already developed a network of suppliers.