The Bonnell family has always been in business together. Ryan Bonnell worked at his father’s commercial insurance business for years. He managed sales and traveled often until his father sold the family business.
Ryan, on the hunt for a new career, realized he wasn’t obligated to find another corporate position – he could be his own boss just like his father. Ryan’s brother Andrew lived in Nevada and the pair would always eat at Capriotti’s on visits, so it seemed like a logical business choice.
“You’ve got to have a product you can stand behind,” Ryan said. “My favorite is the Capastrami, but they have the best cheesesteak around. I knew if I enjoyed the brand this much as a customer, it was a viable business opportunity.”
Ryan and Andrew opened their first location in March 2017, and in under a year and a half, the pair opened a second, both in the Indianapolis area.
Brothers in Business
As brothers, you would think the two wouldn’t be able to avoid sibling quarrels, but they manage to keep it out of their business. In fact, the dynamic is calm and collaborative. They split duties well, each getting a chance to use their strengths while the other picks up the weaknesses.
“I used to work with my father, so I’m used to working with family,” Ryan said. “I handle some things better than my brother, so we tag team the business.”
Ryan works better under pressure and can handle tight deadlines. He was an important team player when signing on for a second location.
“We always planned to have multiple locations but didn’t expect it this quick,” Ryan said. “We saw an opportunity in a really great location, so we actually signed both agreements around the same time.”
With two locations in the pipeline early on, Ryan worked to collaborate with contractors and meet deadlines. Meanwhile, Andrew focused on building relationships and reaching out in the community. Most recently, the brothers have been working to facilitate partnerships with local organizations.
Building Brand Awareness
The Bonnell brothers own the only Capriotti’s sandwich shops in Indiana. It was exciting to bring this brand to a new market, but this also brought the challenge of building brand awareness
“It takes time to build brand recognition and the operation,” Ryan said. “Our locations are in highly visible areas, which is a great asset. Partnerships with little leagues, churches and other community institutions have been great to build the brand.”
As they continue to build relationships in the community, the Bonnells have been diligent about developing staff to provide stellar customer service and in-store experience.
“Getting guests in is the tricky part,” Ryan said. “So once they’re here, we want to give a great experience and great sandwich to go with it.”
As Ryan and Andrew build up recognition in Indiana, the pair hopes to continue their expansion, focusing on providing guests with obsessively great sandwiches in the best real estate available.