The Original Soupman (OTC: SOUP), a soup restaurant chain first made popular in New York, has amped-up its food truck division by recruiting basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal to take the reins.
O'Neal has long been a partner in the company and has served as strategic advisor.
The recent news has been making waves and is expected to drive investor and consumer interest to the company.
O'Neal will become a joint venture partner of the company for the SoupMobile franchising program, which is part of Soupman's campaign to bring their products closer to the rest of the United States. The other half of the partnership is Marcus Crawford of Amongst Elite LLC who was also formerly a part of The Original Soupman.
Crawford and the bastketball player-turned-businessman will champion the development of the company's franchisee program.
The company is banking on the newest food trend to become a lucrative growth channel, especially since the segment has earned $1.5 billion in revenues in a five-year period from 2007 to 2012. Annual growth of food trucks is pegged at 8.4 percent. About 15,500 jobs were created by food trucks during the same period while 1,500 new business sprouted. The food truck market is expected to generate $2.7 billion more in revenues by 2017.
"The combination of our brand's strength, the food truck trend, and the fact that this is a low-cost franchise business, should make the SoupMobile a one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity, which is what drew Shaquille and I to the business," Crawford said. "After all, we're the soups that made Seinfeld famous."
Besides its gourmet soups that keep New Yorkers standing in long lines, the company has become more popular after it was featured in Seinfeld. One of the characters was based on Soupman's founder Al Yeganeh and the protagonists were shown gushing over the soups that are among the most in-demand food products in New York.
Soupman's CEO Lloyd Sugarman said the company is eyeing at least 100 SoupMobile trucks in the next five years.
"This Original Soupman mobile franchise is a low-cost, branded business opportunity that we believe is perfect for dedicated, passionate operators including veterans," he said.
Since the recession, the food truck business boomed, providing customers with quality food at affordable prices and business owners with lower operation expenses.
Soupman, which first opened in New York in 1984, has been dabbling in a number of other ventures besides the restaurant chain. Before franchising soup trucks, it has been selling its gourmet soups in over 4,000 supermarkets and online shops.
In a release, Soupman announced its future plans to serve Rutgers University and Jersey City through its first official SoupMobile earlier launched in New Jersey.
Lobster Bisque, Chicken Gumbo Crab Corn Chowder and Jambalaya will be among the soup varieties offered by the soup trucks. The soups will be made available in cups, bowls, or quarts and as meals or a la carte. Customers will have the option to buy artisanal bread, oyster crackers, fresh fruit and Soupman's signature piece of chocolate.
Other products on the menu are New England styled Lobster rolls and rice bowls, as well as smoothies and other beverages.