Rich Chandler had been in the restaurant business for decades as the vice president of operations for Jim Stevens’ Applebee’s franchises.
When Stevens retired in 2020, Chandler said, “I kind of retired a little bit, too.”
Then he was ready to get back to work, so he checked with a franchise consultant to find a franchise that might be a good fit for him and his family.
Chandler selected Tennessee-based Premier Martial Arts and now is planning his first one for the strip center in front of Cabela’s at Regency Lakes, which is at the northwest corner of 21st and Greenwich.
He’d narrowed his list of possible franchises to about eight and said he chose Premier because it has a good return on investment as well as a good culture.
“We make better people through martial arts,” Chandler said.
Though there are adult classes and some tiny tykes classes, too, he said the chain specializes in children 8 to 15.
In addition to learning martial arts moves, Chandler said, “You also have to have goals at home, goals at school you need to meet.”
Premier Martial Arts is about making better people and communities, he said.
“To me, being a part of that is a big driver.”
Chandler has never done martial arts himself.
“I’m actually looking kind of forward to learning some stuff,” he said.
He said he’ll be an owner and operator who sets goals and sees that they’re achieved, but he won’t teach classes.
Chandler said Regency Lakes not only is a convenient spot, but it’s also somewhere that parents can drop off their kids and then go run errands at places such as the nearby Target.
“That was also one of the big drives.”
Chandler hasn’t set prices yet.
He has signed to do two Premier Martial Arts sites, and he’s already looking for a second site in Derby and would one day like to have one in the Andover area as well.
Another franchisee has a Premier Martial Arts in west Wichita.
Chandler hopes to open the almost 1,800-square-foot Regency Lakes site in April.
Craig Simon of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.
Chandler is keeping in touch with Stevens about his plans.
“It’s kind of nice to go talk to Jim.”
Chandler said Stevens is supportive and shows it when he thinks Chandler has made good choices along the way.
“He gets this smile just listening to you talk about what you’re going to do.”