We were very lucky this week to have Sabrina's old boss in town for a couple of days this week. Sabrina used to work for him in Sydney with a design business he was developing with some Australian partners.
Allen Felsenthal is a typical New York Jew - switched on, vibrant, full of ideas and he wants to change the world!
We sat listening to some great tales of excitement about what he has been doing and what he is up to now. He is involved in two exciting businesses at the moment.
One is the continuation of his work in design. His current company is called Point Design Inc. and they specialise in large retail store design, including some of the worlds leading department stores and shopping centres (malls). They have been extremely successful in the development of this business with 2 `World's Best Retail Design' awards in the last 4 years and it looks like they will pick up their third with the mega ritzy and upmarket Russian centre TSUM being completed shortly.
His other business is slightly out of character to what we would have expected, but, at 63 Allen is going into the world of QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) franchising with an innovative take on Chili and Ice Cream with the very popular and successful Global Chili Co. The Global Chili Co makes chili dishes, but with very innovative flavours and styles, and delivers it hot, fresh, fast and cheap. It looks like it is about to take off through Colorado and a few other states in the US and also into a couple of Asian countries. I put my hand up to try and work to get the business running here in China. He was very receptive to the idea, especially considering my extensive operations experience in QSRs and offered me to work out how to get a master franchise arrangement set up here. So if anyone has $2million to invest, let me know - we could open about 10 stores in Shanghai and then expand out around the rest of China.
Now, this opportunity came because we had the opportunity to spend more time with Allen than we had anticipated. Sabrina is a big believer that things happen for a reason, so if you read the article about where Allen was staying and then you combine that with the fact that all 3 of his meetings in Shanghai were cancelled, then I guess that I believe it too. The fact he was staying next door and had all his meetings cancel meant we could have 2 dinners and a lunch with him - and pick his brains! Very worthwhile time for us, and for the future of the Global Chili Co I hope it was worth the time for him as well.