Saturday, 24 July 2021

Lucerne woman purchases Subway franchise

Cynthia Epperson in front of her Subway franchise in Lucerne, California. Courtesy photo.

LUCERNE, Calif. – Across the country, news of restaurants closing for good due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been widespread.

Even as COVID challenges continue, Lucerne resident Cynthia Epperson has put it all on the line to own her first Subway franchise.

As a widow, mother and grandmother, Epperson never imagined she could own her own business. Living in a small town with a population of less than 3,000, there weren’t many job opportunities available. Epperson worked various roles throughout her life, including a teacher’s aide and a manager at Foster Freeze, the only other franchise restaurant in town.

When her husband passed away in 2011, she knew she needed to find a stable job to support herself. She applied to the local Subway restaurant down the street from her house and has been working there for the past 10 years. Epperson steadily worked her way up and was promoted to manager.

A few months before the pandemic, Epperson was given an exciting offer: the opportunity to take over the store, and own her first Subway franchise. She would work with mentors over the next several months to finalize the process. It felt like a dream.

Then the pandemic hit.

Like many throughout the country, Epperson was fearful of what COVID-19 would bring. The store she managed – but did not yet own – was forced to close initially to reassess its business plan. As manager, she was privy to the decline in sales and its effects on the store. Despite the uncertainty, Epperson pushed through and continued with her mission to own her first store.

“Purchasing a franchise during COVID was a huge leap of faith,” said Epperson. “With so many restaurants closing, I was afraid our store might be next. While I had my reservations initially, I felt this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I needed to take advantage of it.”

Over the next several months, she worked closely with her district manager Himanshu Patel, the vice president of operations Alia Ganem, and her area development director and local franchisor Akki Patel, to advance the process of owning her own store. While she had no prior business experience, she felt very supported by the company and knew she was making the right decision.

“When they initially offered me the store, I thought they were crazy,” said Epperson. “I had no experience owning my own business, but Letap Group’s team have been very supportive throughout this whole process. Whenever I need anything, I can easily call Akki and he will send his best people to help, no expenses spared.”

“Cynthia is the perfect example of what we look for in a Subway franchisee,” said Akki Patel, president of Letap Group, which supports hundreds of locations throughout northern California and Nevada, and also is a franchisor for Subway. “She is hard working, determined and is following her dream. While she’s been dealt a difficult first hand, we know Cynthia has what it takes to adapt and persevere through the pandemic.”

The Letap Group and Subway have been helping first time franchisee buyers and store managers achieve the American dream of owning their own business for the past 16 years. Akki Patel, who bought his first Subway franchise at the age of 20, leverages his life lessons and can-do spirit into helping others build their own businesses; providing business counseling, financing, training and operational support as they launch within the Subway family.

“Every year I personally meet with qualified managers at each Subway franchise to present them the opportunity to own their own business,” said Akki Patel. “Many of them are content with their current jobs but a few, like Cynthia, seize the opportunity to become a successful business owner and achieve their dreams.”

As manager, Epperson worked tirelessly with her team to keep the store afloat as sales declined from pre-pandemic levels. She was able to successfully keep all of her staff on board by changing the store hours and adjusting schedules around individual needs. Today, sales at the store are up close to 20 percent from her most difficult months, and Cynthia sees increasing signs of growth.

In December 2020, Epperson officially became the new owner of the Lucerne Subway franchise. While she hasn’t owned the store for very long, she has already started thinking about the future.

“Everything that I am doing, I am doing for my family,” said Epperson. “As a mother and grandmother, I want to make sure that I am setting my family up for success, and I have the ability to do that now. I know they are proud of me and I hope to make them proud by leaving this legacy behind for them.”

Epperson’s Subway store is located at 6272 E Highway 20 in Lucerne. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

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