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Franchising the Hill
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First, let me go on record as saying, I could be wrong. But, I have looked through business license lists, went through a mental list and have talked to everybody I can think of that would know. After doing all that, I think I can announce the first franchise to be born in Richmond Hill.

We have had some businesses expand into other areas. Myrtle Beach Tanning did it. So did Augie’s. The slight bit of difference is that they are still owned and operated by the folks that started the original.

That’s not how franchising works. When a business is franchised, the original owner does not own the new location. A franchisee pays a fee for the right to do business under the original name.

An original name like "Hill of Beans." Owners Emily Gansereit and Amy Lane knew they wanted to open some type of business and discussed different ideas at a coffee shop in Savannah. The hitch was they lived in Liberty County. That’s a 45-minute ride just to get a cup of joe in a local coffee house.

That drive convinced Emily and Amy that there needed to be a coffee shop in Richmond Hill. They opened up on Highway 17 in 2004. This was not their first choice of location, but it was available.

In 2006, the preferred location on Ford Avenue became available. Believing they could support two stores, they secured the new building and opened the second Richmond Hill location. However, business and money are not the only things required in running multiple locations. Time and energy are also needed. The strain of running two locations became a bit much.

"I had enough of running two locations," said Emily. "I looked at Amy and told I would sell it or close it. We at the time employed Josh DePlacito. I turned to him and offered him a ‘deal of a lifetime.’"

That "deal" became the first franchise location of The Hill of Beans. Josh and his mother, Kathi, bought the franchise and relocated to the Savannah Mall where another coffee shop had previously closed it doors.

In October 2007, Emily and Amy were approached by Khaled Hammoudah. He was interested in opening his own location. In December, the third Hill of Beans opened in Savannah near Best Buy.

Emily says that all three locations are doing very well and the goal is to expand further. However, she is quick to point out that she and Amy don’t do it alone.

"It is by no means possible for this whole dream to come alive without the help and support of a great lawyer, Christy Balbo, who keeps me tethered when I tend to go too far too fast. There’s the CPA who keeps my records straight. Last, but not least our friends. They are a huge support system."


Business Briefs

- Gail Onken, owner of Health Insurance Specialists in Richmond Hill, announces her new affiliation with MetLife. This affiliation has allowed Onken to expand her resources including access to over 60 insurance companies.

- Mary Grace Keen recently completed a workshop on staging and redesign. She’s been an interior decorator for 20 years and recently opened Stagecoach Home Staging in Richmond Hill.

- Mandy Livingston is a new addition to the staff at Morgan Gallo Events, a wedding and event planner. She started Feb. 29. The 23-year-old native Savannahian is a recent graduate of Georgia Southern University and an alumna of Kappa Delta Sorority.


April Groves covers all things business for the Bryan County News. You can send thoughts, press releases, tips and questions you’d like answered to





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