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Founder: No Sale for Camille’s Sidewalk Café
CEO David Rutkauskas says someone offered him $30 million for his 107-unit fast-casual restaurant chain. He turned the offer down. There’s plenty of game yet to be played for this young CEO. But is he ready for tomorrow’s challenges?
Camille's Sidewalk Cafe founder and CEO, David Rutkauskas

David Rutkauskas is young and ambitious.

This year, the founder of Camille’s Sidewalk Café created a holding company called Beautiful Brands International (BBI) to develop additional brands. To that end, he launched two new concepts—Coney Beach, a fast-casual hot dog and hamburger restaurant, and Freshberry, an all-natural yogurt operation.

You were recently awarded the 2007 Entrepreneurial Success Person of the Year by the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Do you deserve it?

I don’t know if I felt like I deserved it, but it was a good feeling. The award should really go to the staff. We have such a great team of people. I realized years ago that if you hire a bunch of people smarter than you, you will have a chance to succeed.

How many Camille’s stores are currently open?

We have 107 open and just under 1,000 [in development].We open one a week, somewhere in the world.

You’re in international markets?

We have nine under construction in Puerto Rico, two under construction in Bahrain, and they’re going to open this summer.

Why expand into a holding company when Camille’s is doing so well?

I’m an entrepreneur first and realized early on that I could create more concepts. If you have inventory, you can sell franchises. We created Beautiful Brands International to be the holding company of all the brands that I own.

Do you have any private equity or major financial backing?

No.

So all this development is on your dollar?

It’s all me. We are cash-flowing very well. There’s probably not a week that goes by that I don’t get a call from some investment firm that wants to invest in or buy Camille’s. We love what we do, and we’re a long ways away from the end game.

Our royalty stream alone on Camille’s exceeds our corporate expenses significantly every month. So all the franchise fees that we bring in, we’re just throwing that into expansion and growth and growing new concepts.

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