American Flatbread Company
April 14, 2010 6:06 PM   Subscribe

What is the relationship between American Flatbread and Flatbread Company?

My close friend has loved and talked about American Flatbread in Vermont for many years. On a recent trip to Maui, we were excited to visit the Pacific outpost of his favorite Vermont restaurant. We've always referred to this restaurant as "Flatbreads." The only problem is, upon further research, we learned that the Maui restaurant is actually a different restaurant than its Vermont counterpart.

Similar Name.

Similar pizzas.

So what's the deal? Is it an Ana's/Boca Grande type situation or are my friend and I just stupid?
posted by samsarah to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
To the best of my knowledge they're different. I have a pal who is in charge of franchises at American Flatbread here, I'll ask him.
posted by jessamyn at 6:18 PM on April 14, 2010

The deal is that even most successful franchises begin as individual restaurants. If two people on opposite sides of the country have similar ideas and one of them then goes national, trademark issues can be challenging to both parties. A little googling shows that flatbread pizza is a fairly widespread concept -- here's another chain in Idaho/Oregon.
posted by dhartung at 10:04 PM on April 14, 2010

So, the basics, as far as I can tell is that the original owners started things up in Waitsfield making pizzas and selling them. The only time that they actually operate to sell food "live" is on Friday and Saturday nights. Eating at the Waitsfield establishment is fantastic.

At some point someone said "Yo, you need to have a formal establishment to sell your fine pizzas" and such a place came about in Middlebury but under different ownership, basically licensing the pizzas.

As time went on and the original got more popular selling frozen pizzas to grocery stores, more people wanted to franchise it. AFs popped up all over the country.

Then, some folks in Burlington decided to have a franchise as well and have that same sorta distant relationship with the original in Waitsfield.

My expertise:
I lived in the town where the original AF is (Waitsfield) AND later I lived across the street from the main AF in Burlington and ate (read: drank) there 3-5 night per week for a few years. Yes, I gained a lot of weight that way.

I can post this on my Facebook and find out more if you'd like. I was such a regular in 2004-2006 that I befriended a lot of the Burlington location's staff.
posted by k8t at 10:17 PM on April 14, 2010

They are very close in style. Living in Maine, I'm familiar with the Flatbread Company in Portland, but visited an American Flatbread on a recent trip to Burlington.

The pizzas have different names, but otherwise seem the same. The decorations and overall "theme" (tapestries illustrating "nourishment," "community," etc.) are strikingly similar between the two.

I'd be really surprised if they didn't at least share a common point of origin.
posted by anthom at 5:46 AM on April 15, 2010

Best answer: Ah, here it is, from American Flatbread's website:
In 1998, American Flatbread founder George Schenk was approached by flatbread fan Jay Gould with a proposal. Jay wanted to bring this food to his community in Amesbury, Mass. In an effort to realize his dream of sharing good food, George entered into a licensing agreement with Jay Gould and Flatbread Co. was born. George taught Jay how to build the oven and shared our recipes. Over the years, Gould and Flatbread Co. successfully opened and operated 6 Flatbread Co. restaurants under the American Flatbread license. In 2007, American Flatbread and Flatbread Co. agreed that they no longer shared the same vision for the future, and the relationship was officially terminated.
posted by anthom at 5:51 AM on April 15, 2010

Best answer: Response from my friend which is basically what anthom says:
We are not affiliated with "Flatbread Company" that was a painful lesson in our growth as George (founder and creator of American Flatbread) and Jay (operator and owner of Flatbread Company) had a verbal agreement which got very muddied. Our input on food quality and design was largely ignored and they wanted the rights to ALL of the US for Flatbread restaurants without a coherent plan or organization to operate it. We tried to negotiate an amicable relationship for about 8 years and never got to agreement. In the fall of 2007 we agreed to separate amicably. Maui is a restaurant of Flatbread Company's not American Flatbread.
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 AM on April 15, 2010

Some additional details:

there are 4 franchisees: 2 get along with the original Waitsfield people and 2 don't. The one in Burlington is one of the ones that get along with the original owner.

I have more details but can't post them publicly, but if you're really curious, memail me.
posted by k8t at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2010

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