September 3 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 18, 2014
A Thetford couple will be the first people to open a franchise of the American diner Zaks later this year, bringing the restaurant to the Norfolk/Suffolk border.
David and Joan Hughes were looking for a new project after retiring from their careers - Mr Hughes in the financial sector and Mrs Hughes as a primary school headteacher.
After looking into a number of other franchises, Mr Hughes had noticed the OK Diners while travelling on the A1 - and then saw the piece about Zaks in the Eastern Daily Press.
“With the American air bases nearby, I thought it would be a thing to get an American diner in the Thetford area,” he said.
“We were looking for an investment opportunity, so when I saw the piece in the paper, I phoned up to get more details.”
The couple hope to open the franchise in the Thetford/Bury St Edmunds area but are busy looking for a suitable home for their new venture.
They want a neighbourhood location rather somewhere in a town centre and would be delighted if an ‘unusual’ building became available.
The couple are both excited about the plans and say they have the full support of their family.
“It’s a time of life when people would think we’d calm down,” said Mr Hughes.
“But I always felt there was something else we needed to do. One of the reasons we wanted to do this was to leave a legacy - something our family could get involved with.”
The couple have been in talks with Zaks for three months and hope to open their franchise this autumn.
Mrs Hughes said; “Being the first to take on a franchise was a bit scary at first because it has not been tried and tested. But because we are the first, we know we are going to get a lot of help and support.”
The news of a new Zaks comes eight months after parent company, Blue Sky Leisure, revealed details of its franchise plan at an American-themed event last Independence Day.
Chief Operating Officer, Chris Carr, said: “We’re incredibly excited about working with David and Joan and helping bring the authentic American dining experience to a new Norfolk neighbourhood.”
Mr and Mrs Hughes are both fans of Zaks, saying they enjoy “the whole experience” of the restaurant.
But what about any personal touches to their franchise?
“We are near an American air base and I have got this thing about Top Gun,” said Mr Hughes.
“But whether I will be walking around with a helmet and a leather jacket on, who knows?”