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Ruby Tuesday, a full-service American food restaurant chain, wants a franchisee to invest in new Northern Nevada restaurants as it expands westward.

“I believe entrepreneurs do it best over corporations," said James Vitrano, vice president of franchise development and operations at Ruby Tuesday.

Vitrano said a local entrepreneur would make franchising better for the community because they know where to put a new restaurant and would attract customers who want to support a local owner.

“It’s really about that connection, that’s why franchising works,” he said.

Opening one to four restaurants in the region would require a franchisee to invest $1.7 million to $4 million, Vitrano said. The franchising agreements try to discourage multiple owners from competing with each other in a region, though Vitrano said they are not opposed to multiple franchisees. The goal is to open three to five over a few years.

"That doesn’t mean you have to have that capital in your pocket, right now," he said. "Most franchisees finance. We don’t provide funding but we provide support in building and setting up your Ruby Tuesday. We also provide support in finding finance."

Vitrano compared Ruby Tuesday to the feel of Buffalo Wild Wings, with a family-friendly dining area, a separate bar, TVs for sports, American food and beers. They also add local art and photography to personalize each location.

Vitrano addressed the closure of 95 underperforming stores, saying Ruby Tuesday tried a new higher-quality casual dining before the recession that ultimately did not work out. Now they are refocusing on their proven formula from the previous 44 years of operation, which emphasizes franchise growth in mid-market cities, such as Reno, he said.

For now, they don't have locations planned, but Vitrano said if a perfect franchisee calls tomorrow, the weather stays nice over the winter and everything falls into place without a hitch, they can put up the first restaurant in six months.

Mike Higdon is the city life reporter at the Reno Gazette-Journal. He an be found on Instagram @MillennialMike and on Facebook at Mike Higdon, Reno Life.

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