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Cousin Vinny's Expensive Franchise Lesson

Posted by: Nick Leiber on August 6, 2009

This is a post by guest blogger Don Sniegowski, the founding editor of the daily franchise news site BlueMauMau.

donsniegowski.jpgPoor, dear Cousin Vinny, aka Anthony “Vinny” Agnello of New York City.

He’s learned a hard lesson. Having once run a party stripper and escort service, Vinny is the Subway franchisee who had to close his store in the summer of last year because his decor wasn’t quite up to franchise operating standards. Instead of posters of tasty subway sandwiches like all the other Subway shops, Vinny thought it more interesting to have signs advertising sex dolls and nude dancing services on his eatery’s walls.

Subway didn’t take kindly to a franchisee debasing its wholesome brand.

His franchise was summarily terminated. Vinny got even by reopening a grinder shop by day, with special nude lap grinders in the basement by night. Agnello posted flyers letting residents know of his new digs. Confusing readers by cashing in on his Subway ties, his flyer stated, “Cannot remember our phone number? Simply call information for the number to the Subway Restaurant on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx! Hope to see you soon!”

Subway sued.

And now after a year, what are the results of Cousin Vinny’s anger and rebellion at being terminated? The NY Post reports:

[Federal] Magistrate Frank Maas said Agnello — who gained infamy after supplying the stripper for a wild high-school party in 2001 — should pay the fast-food giant’s corporate parent $90,000, plus another $7,900 for its legal fees.

Cousin Vinny is now a hundred thousand dollars poorer. And that’s just his legal liabilities.

Moral of the story: if you are going to be a successful franchisee, at bare minimum, follow the franchise chain’s operating standards — or else!

Don Sniegowski is the founder and editor of Blue MauMau, a daily business news site for franchise buyers and owner-operators. Previously, he led global field operations and franchise development for a quick-print franchising firm. Sniegowski also helped lead global publishing efforts for trade publisher Global Sources Media and led Asia-Pacific retail and operations for Franklin Covey.

Reader Comments

shawn woodbury

August 7, 2009 3:26 AM

Is this a moral lesson or are we really supposed to be taking business advice from your con-trospective?

shawn woodbury

August 7, 2009 3:27 AM

this film is not yet rated!

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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