Local eatery finds unique path to Boca
By Ethan A. Pond Lynn University Contributing Writer
On March 5, 53-year-old Dan Collins was named I Heart Mac & Cheese’s president and chief development officer. Collins was tasked with bringing the company to another level of dining.
Collins’ responsibilities include strategizing, planning, managing and marketing. His main focus as an executive is to ultimately expand this restaurant into a chain. Currently, I Heart Mac & Cheese has five locations across Florida, including numerous spots in Broward County and one in Boca Raton.
“Michael Blum was my dining chef. He discovered that mac and cheese was the most requested item on his menu and decided he wanted to do a full-service restaurant based around it,” said Collins on the initial concept of his restaurant.
The first location was established in Fort Lauderdale, where Collins brought on business partner Steve Giordanella. The new addition to the team changed it up to a fast-casual model.
“Near the end of last year, they decided they wanted to get into franchising, so they brought me on in January as a consultant and partner,” said Collins. “That’s how I got to be president and chief development officer.”
Collins’ goals mostly focus on the expansion of his franchise, not just countrywide but worldwide.
“In six years, our goal is to have about 200 restaurants across the country [while going] international,” said Collins. “We’ve secured contractors that are licensed in every state. We have everything that we would need in order to be a successful franchise store.”
Having meals that connect customers to their pasts is of great importance to the story of I Heart Mac & Cheese. While all restaurants utilize the power of comfort food to attract customers, Collins’ company has managed to use their namesake as a focal point.
“The mac and cheese signage definitely gets them in the door,” said Collins. “People come in to find we have mac and cheese sandwiches, specially-created tater tots and tasty salads. Even better, we have healthy options in addition to our indulgent options.”
I Heart Mac & Cheese’s menu is comprised of numerous items with the customer’s needs in mind. The restaurant serves meals like “lobster and white truffle mac,” baked mac and cheese sandwiches and “mac n’ cheese pizza.”
“Franchises look for simple operations that are profitable. When I saw how small this was, how the food was fantastic and how simple the operation was, I knew that this was a winner for franchising,” said Collins.
To keep tabs on all of the progress Collins and his team are making, the company can be found on social media as @IHeartMacandCheese. Individuals can also visit their website at iheartmacandcheese.com for their menu, hours and locations.