From Food Stamps to Franchising: The Squeeze In

Things have certainly come full circle for Misty Young, a woman who was once standing in line for “government cheese,” and today is the co-owner of a multi-million- dollar breakfast operation.

Young and her husband purchased the Squeeze In, a breakfast and lunch restaurant with several locations across Nevada and California, in 2003. The Youngs got a tip that the long-time owner was putting his prized restaurant up for sale, and jumped at the opportunity to own.

“We used to lay in bed at night and would specifically say if we could do anything, it would be to own the Squeeze In,” she says. “It was this little hippie restaurant that we just loved.”

But Young says it’s much more than just “peace, love and omelets”  that keeps the business thriving. When they bought in 2004, the Squeeze In was generating about $550,000 in sales. This year, with a fifth location on the way, the business is set to do $4.2 million in sales, she says.

“It’s 400% growth in a five-year period for us,” Young says. “I’ve also taken my first steps in franchising, which is a huge process. We have been really blessed that our little restaurant is as structured and strategic as IBM. When you set out to develop a franchise platform, its plug and play.”

She hopes to one day have 50 locations across Nevada and California, and then spread nationwide. Franchising the company can show others that there is a “way out of a $10 an hour job” and give individuals and families the opportunity to thrive the way the Youngs have, she says.

Young also prides much of her business’ growth and success on its tech and social media savvy. The Squeeze In team has made parody music videos, like the popular song “Gangam Style” for example, which have garnered nearly 65,000 views to date on YouTube. The Squeeze In custom app has been downloaded nearly 1,200 times and is tied to $30, 654 in sales, Young says. The restaurant’s EggHead Breakfast Club, its loyalty program, also has more than 65,000 members.

Young’s daughter Kay handles the social media aspect of the business today, she says, and the family makes it a point to answer every negative comment or review they see online.

“It’s important to meet people where they are,” Young says. “Our guests are on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google + (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Twitter. We have pages where people can check in, and they do just that. It shows they are engaging with us.”

And aside from getting her feet wet with franchising, Young has also just written and published her first book, From Rags to Restaurants: The Secret Recipe.

“I always knew I would write a book,” she says. “I have  literally gone from rags to restaurants—I have a fantastic story of moving from abject poverty, being on food stamps to owning and operating a multi-million-dollar restaurant with my family. My restaurant is the place customers choose, I get to meet them in a moment of need and it gives me the opportunity to serve. I wanted to tell that story, and tell people how to create a rock solid business plan.”