The Fat Shack® was created in February of 2010 by Tom Armenti. After graduating with a degree in Marketing from The College of New Jersey, Tom set out to bring his College and surrounding town a desperately needed solution to their lack of late-night food options.  With only $5,000 on hand to start his business, Tom creatively partnered with RJ’s Bagels, a local bagel shop which opened daily for breakfast and closed after lunch. Once RJ’s left for the day, Tom would re-open the store and operate his new concept from 6PM to 4AM.

The Fat Shack was born! Sharing the small bagel store was difficult however, and Tom was forced to have his weekly supplies delivered to the garage of his college house. Each night he would head out to the freezers in the garage and load his car full of bread, french fries, chicken fingers and everything else needed to get through a night’s worth of business.

The business steadily grew over the next year, but the strain of sharing the space became more and more difficult. It was time to build out the first full Fat Shack store. After visiting family in Northern Colorado, Tom knew that a town like Fort Collins was the perfect place to set up shop.  He returned to Jersey, packed his car, moved halfway across the country and opened the doors to Fat Shack Fort Collins in August 2011. In a city with the most fast-casual restaurants per person and a population that had never heard of a Fat Sandwich, against the odds, Fat Shack became an immediate hit!

In its first year, the volume of business in Fort Collins more than doubled what Tom had been able to produce in the bagel shop back in Jersey.  Recognizing the opportunity to expand into cities throughout Colorado and beyond, Tom knew he couldn’t do it alone. The answer was back in Jersey with college classmate and close friend, Kevin Gabauer. Leaving the salary and benefits from a career in “Corporate America” behind, Kevin too, packed up and made his way across the country.

Kevin and Tom got to work immediately re-organizing the menu, refreshing the company’s brand and simplifying operations. Within six months Fat Shack began its growth, opening another successful location On the Hill in Boulder. With proof of concept now behind them, Kevin and Tom dedicated several months to position the Fat Shack for franchising. In January of 2015 the legal work was complete and in February, Fat Shack celebrated the grand opening of its first franchise in Denver at DU. Three months later the second franchise would open in Thornton and the third in Greeley less than a month after that.

Fat Shack has come a long way from hauling cars full of Philly cheestesteak and mozzarella sticks from the garage to the bagel store every night. But we’ll never forget the “whatever it takes” attitude that got us here. And to those young and driven entrepreneurs ready to do the same and put everything they’ve got into becoming their own boss, please step forward. Fat Shack is excited to continue its growth and even more excited to do so by inspiring and mentoring young entrepreneurs along the way.

Be sure to check back soon for updates on where Fat Shack will be next! In the meantime, check out our sneak peek clip on Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise”…