With hungry office workers in its sights, a national soup chain is opening its first Virginia location in Glen Allen.
Zoup! Fresh Soup Company leased a 2,100-square-foot storefront in Parkside Marketplace at 10835 W. Broad St. The eatery is expected to open in late October or early November.
Franchisees Jeff and Betsy Lee said they chose the shopping center because of its potential to draw a lunch crowd from nearby office parks, including the masses of employees in and around Innsbrook.
“We’re going to try and visit the local businesses, invite them for free lunches and build a buzz early,” said Jeff Lee, 50. “We want to create a market close to the store. It’s just a matter of getting the word out there.”
The Lees have lived in Richmond for the past eight years. Betsy Lee, 47, works at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Jeff Lee worked in the insurance industry for 20 years before losing his job in 2010.
The Lees didn’t want to relocate, so they began working with a franchise broker in hopes of opening a restaurant. They settled on Zoup, a chain founded in Michigan in 1998 that has more than 50 restaurants in 11 states.
“The key thing I was looking for was something that had a really good product that I felt like there was a demand for in the market,” Jeff Lee said. “The city doesn’t have restaurants that feature soup, so [Zoup] just jumped out at me.”
The Lees are spending more than $400,000 to get the location up and running. They are using a loan from Twin City Bank in Washington state. Cleveland-based Arkinetics is designing the space, and Illinois-based Weiss Builders & Design is the general contractor for the project.
Zoup estimates the cost of opening a franchise at between $327,500 and $563,000, which includes renovation and equipment costs, furniture, signage, inventory, working capital, advertising for the grand opening, miscellaneous costs and a franchise fee of $39,000.
The restaurant faces nearby competition: Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Moe’s Southwest Grill are in the same shopping center, and there are plenty of Broad Street restaurants in the area.
Zoup will offer 12 soups daily. The company has more than 100 recipes, which include low-fat, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options, Lee said. The eatery will also serve sandwiches and salads.
Menu items range from $5 to $10, Lee said. The restaurant will seat 52 people, and the couple is looking to hire about 15 employees.