Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

INDUSTRY FOCUS: FOOD SERVICE; FiltaFry a Hit with Restaurant Owners, Employees Jacksonville Couple Finds Market for Their Business, Cleaning Deep Fryers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

INDUSTRY FOCUS: FOOD SERVICE; FiltaFry a Hit with Restaurant Owners, Employees Jacksonville Couple Finds Market for Their Business, Cleaning Deep Fryers

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTOPHER CALNAN

A Jacksonville couple has started a successful business that's partly based on restaurants' love-hate relationship with fryers.

Mitch and Jan Spence started their business of cleaning the oil in restaurant fryers just two years ago when they bought the rights to FiltaFry of Jacksonville. They now have 70 customers and clean nearly 250 fryers each week.

Chief executive Jan Spence attributed some of the success to restaurant workers' dislike for cleaning the fryers with the desire by restaurant owners to save money by extending the life of the oil.

"It is the most hated job in the kitchen," she said, "to have someone do that and have the oil savings pay for the service, it's really a no-brainer."

Most restaurants need to change the cooking oil in their fryers twice a week to keep it from getting too dirty. That costs between $70 to $90 total to change the oil of three fryers.

But the Spences and their two employees typically charge a restaurant $50 to clean the oil on three fryers, allowing the restaurant to keep the oil for several more days, saving money on replacing it and disposing it.

They use a shopping cart-sized filtration device that can be wheeled into kitchens to complete the 50- to 60-minute process.

About one-third of their customers are chain restaurants, one-third independents, and another third are institutions, such as hospitals, the Spences said.

No other businesses clean fryer oil grease for restaurants, they said.

FiltaFry started in England in 1996, its Orlando-based U.S. division was established in 2002.

Of its 100 U.S. franchises, the Spences' business ranks No. 2 for sales behind the company's San Francisco franchise, FiltaFry spokeswoman Lauren Sugarman said.

The Spences became interested in FiltaFry when Mitch Spence saw a company display during a franchise show at the downtown Adam's Mark hotel in 2001. A native of Canada and a chemical engineer by training, he was looking for a career change.

They first checked with a franchise consultant before spending $65,000 on their franchise fee, FiltaFry van, its equipment and rights to the Jacksonville area. …

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