Fat Shack is a fast food franchise founded by Tom Armenti. He will appear on Shark Tank alongside Kevin Gabauer to pitch the franchise, in the hopes that an investor will help him expand throughout the country.
Fat Shack is based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, and offers a variety of “guilty pleasure foods” like burgers, sandwiches and wings. Learn more about Armenti, his background, and what his plans are for the future of the franchise.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fat Shack Specializes In ‘Fat Sandwiches’ & Other Unhealthy Foods
Fat Shack’s menu consists of burgers and sandwiches that have everything on them. According to the Shark Tank Blog, their food is “decadent” and tasty. “The fare is fat, as in BIG. The Fat Shack stuffs sandwiches with things like bacon, chicken fingers, french fries, cheddar cheese sauce, lettuce & ranch – yes, all in the same sandwich,” it states.
Their menu offers a variety of “fat sandwiches,” including the “Fat Tommy”, the “Fat Stimpy” and the “Fat Slob.” These sandwiches includes french fries and sides like onion rings or chicken fingers in addition to the sandwich. There are also alternative sandwiches like the “Fat Veggie,” which is a vegetarian option.
There are three burger size options, wing options that include ranch or bleu cheese on the side. There are also dessert options like deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Rice Krispie treats and deep-fried Twinkies.
2. Armenti Was a Marketing Graduate Before He Founded Fat Shack In 2010
Armenti graduated with a degree in Marketing from The College of New Jersey. His college experience, which included staying up late and cramming for tests, led him to realize that a late-night food option in his town was desperately needed. According to the official Fat Shack website, Armenti saved up $5,000 and partnered with a local bagel shop which closed after lunch. Once the bagel shop staff left for the day, he would re-open the store and operate his business from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
“In the beginning, I envisioned the company as a way to serve better food at night than the junk they were delivering to me at 2 a.m. during college,” Armenti told The Rooster. The business grew steadily from there, but Armenti felt that the strain of sharing space became more difficult. “When I first opened in Jersey, the bagel shop I worked out of at night was so tiny and there was no space to store the Fat Shack food,” he explained. “I used to get everything delivered to my college house, store it in freezers in my garage, and then bring over enough food to get through the night every single day.”
Upon visiting his family in Northern Colorado, however, he discovered that Fort Collins was the perfect place to set up shop. He relocated to Colorado and opened the Fat Shack Fort Collins in August 2011.
3. Armenti Brought on Classmate Kevin Gabauer to Help With Fat Shack’s Expansion
Armenti felt that he couldn’t handle to expansion of the business by himself, so be brought in his close friend and former classmate Kevin Gabauer as a partner. The latter was working in corporate America at the time, and he was initially hesitant to take Armenti’s offer. “Holding me back initially was the security of a ‘corporate’ career back home in Jersey that I had began while I was still in school,” he admitted. “When I drove across country, there had only been one Fat Shack in Colorado. Tom and I created our corporate entity, ‘Fat Shack America’ which brought in $0 in revenue at the time.”
“There was such an avalanche of work to be done with the Fort Collins store before we could even begin to imagine scaling the business beyond one location,” he added. “My entire family and network of friends were all still in Jersey, along with a comfortable salary and benefits.” Gabauer went on to say that their biggest struggle initially was overcoming the stigma that they were young, and therefore did not know what they were doing.
“Both of us are young. In the beginning, it was challenging to overcome some of those stereotypical beliefs that because we don’t have the “experience” to draw from we can’t be successful,” he said. “When a property owner sees a couple guys in their mid-20s, they’re going to question if we have what it takes. We do still deal with these types of challenges a little bit but it has definitely gotten easier with each new location we open.”
4. Fat Shack Currently Has Locations In Colorado, Texas & Washington
Fat Shack currently has 13 locations in Colorado, Texas, and Washington. They have plans to add a 14th location in Fort Worth, Texas. According to The Rooster, however, Armenti and Gaubauer want to expand further. “The plan is to continue growing our franchise system. We’re excited to see the Fat Shack spread across the country and are currently in talks to put stores in Michigan and Florida,” Armenti said.
“What gets us more excited is that we are going to do this whole thing with young hard-working entrepreneurs in a market that’s typically dominated by older and wealthier business owners,” he continued. As we grow, my vision is now focusing on teaching young, hard workers how to do exactly what I did and become their own boss. Our first three franchisees are 22, 21 and 22 years old, and it’s really exciting to see these guys owning their own Fat Shacks.”
5. Armenti Is a Longtime ‘Shark Tank’ Fan & Is Eager to Appear on the Show
Armenti told The Signal that he’s been a longtime admirer of Shark Tank. He hopes that his experience on the show will, at the very least, expand the visibility of his franchise. “I have watched the show ever since it came out, and I think watching it for so long has helped me learn from other people’s mistakes,” he said. “I hope that by putting ourselves out there, we are able to help Fat Shack grow.”
Gabauer said that regardless of what happens, he’s proud of what they’ve accomplished so far and is eager to continue forward. “Dive right in — just pour everything you’ve got into it,” he advised future business owners. “You’re so young still so that if something doesn’t work well, you’re still well-positioned to find something else.”