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Why One of the Largest Arby’s Franchisees is Investing in Rusty Taco

By Raj Prashad

Arby’s franchisee John Wade has been part of the Arby’s business for nearly 30 years, joining the brand as an assistant manager in 1991. He started out with humble roots and understood what it took to be successful in life.

“If you’re willing to work hard, you can be successful in whatever business you work in,” Wade said. “I started out in Topeka, Kansas, as an assistant manager and moved to Lafayette, Indiana, where I worked all the way up to become a regional president.”

In 2004, Wade ventured out to run his own business, acquiring seven Arby’s restaurants.

“They were actually the original seven that I took over as an area supervisor when I first moved to Indiana, so I knew them very, very well and they’ve been under my control since really ’92. It was meaningful because I had a lot of the same general managers from when I was an area supervisor years before that,” Wade said.

“From my years working in the restaurant, I learned what a unique brand Arby’s is. We fill a niche, but we’re also a unique business opportunity. Because of our franchise association and the franchisees, this brand works much closer and has a great working relationship with corporate.”

Now operating 72 restaurants as one of the largest franchisees across Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia, Wade became interested in expanding his business to another Inspire Brands organization: Rusty Taco.

“First and foremost, it’s Inspire Brands,” Wade said. “We obviously trust the leadership that we’ve had at Arby’s, whether it be Paul Brown or Jim Taylor, we trust what they’ve done. With Paul being over Inspire, we wanted to grow and we saw an opportunity that would fall under that umbrella and a concept that really has a lot of white space left to fill, so we thought that made a lot of sense. When you’re getting into another brand, you don’t want to have to develop relationships with the leadership. We already have relationships with the Inspire leadership, so it really made sense for us.”

From his first steps inside a Rusty Taco, there was no question it was a brand Wade was interested in investing in.

“When we saw Rusty Taco for the first time, we really loved the concept, the energy of it, the fun, the big garage doors being open,” he said. “It’s just a lot of fun and the product was great, with a real authentic, street-taco inspired menu.”

Wade recently opened his first Rusty Taco in Indiana and couldn’t be more excited about the early success of the brand.

“We are thrilled with the opening and blown away by the support our community has given us,” Wade said. “We were well supported from the brand and couldn’t have executed as well as we did without them.”

With the proven strength of Arby’s, investment opportunities at Rusty Taco and the value of the Inspire model, Wade can’t wait to see what the future holds for Inspire.

“When you go back to the day Paul Brown stepped into the leadership role at Arby’s and the track record of Arby’s since then, it’s hard not to be impressed,” Wade said. “And the thing that he’s done is shown a track record of hiring great, talented people, putting them in position and then letting them take it from there. And as long as he continues to do that, Inspire is going to be very successful with every brand they acquire.”

To learn more about franchising opportunities with Arby’s and Rusty Taco, go to