Where Aspiring Franchisees Wash the Toilets

In 2009, Paul Damico faced a happy conundrum. More than 2,000 well-capitalized individuals were lined up to buy franchise outlets at Moe's Southwest Grill, a "fast casual" restaurant franchisor where Damico is president. Many of these would-be entrepreneurs had cash but no experience in food service or franchising. Rather than take their money and hope they learned on the job, Damico set up a restaurant internship program designed to separate the serious from the speculators. He spoke about the program recently with Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

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