Whether you’re a college student pulling an all-nighter during exam week or an office supervisor working late on an emergency project, getting the munchies can become a serious problem. Whatever the cause, those midnight cravings just have to be satisfied!
Tom Armenti was a junior at The College of New Jersey and looking for a creative way to earn some money rather than settling for a typical summer job. Recognizing that there were limited options for satisfying those midnight hunger attacks, Armenti and a few friends started a late night food delivery service.
After graduating in 2010 with a degree in marketing and his entrepreneurial drive in full bloom, Armenti decided to stake his degree and his $5,000 in savings on creating a late night food service in his hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey. He was able to keep his startup costs low with a creative solution. A local bagel shop opened for breakfast and then closed at 3PM, and Armenti used the facility to run his business from 6PM to 4AM! Facebook was his major source of advertising, and within a few days the Fat Shack had attracted more than 1,000 followers. Armenti did not expect such quickly-growing interest and had to scramble to gather enough supplies and train his first employees in time for opening night, scheduled for February 2, 2010. He recounted this experience in a feature article on The Fat Shack in the March 3, 2010 issue of The College of New Jersey Signal. Armenti admitted that he had underestimated Facebook and had over 100 orders the first night. “It was wild!”
Business continued to grow, but the difficulties sharing a small space became increasingly problematic. Armenti wanted to establish a store of his own. He knew that under-served small college towns would be the most profitable and after visiting relatives in Colorado, decided that Fort Collins would be an ideal location. He packed up his car, moved all his possessions to Fort Collins, and opened Fat Shack in August 2011. During its first year his business doubled and Armenti wanted to expand to other locations. Knowing this would definitely not be a “one-man job,” in 2013 Armenti turned to his close friend and college classmate, Kevin Gabauer. Working back in New Jersey in corporate America, Gabauer clearly possessed the same entrepreneurial spirit as his friend. He left his good salary and benefits behind, packed up his car and headed for Colorado.
Six months later Fat Shack opened in Boulder, and the partners decided to begin franchising. On February 13th 2015 their first franchise owner, 22-year-old Cory Whitman opened his Fat Shack in Denver. Franchising turned out to be not only financially wise, but also opened up an area of interest for them. When the partners were interviewed on June 15, 2015 by Rooster.com after being named Colorado Young Entrepreneurs, they both confirmed that building a successful business is more about building people and relationships than anything else. In a market that is typically dominated by “older and wealthier business owners,” Armenti and Gabauer said they are most excited to help support young, hard-working entrepreneurs. The cost of a franchise is relatively low and the partners will help franchise owners obtain the necessary financing if that is an issue.
So what exactly is a “fat sandwich?” With names like Fat Jersey, Fat Hangover, or Fat Slob, just think of all the fried, salty and cheesy foods you hate to admit you really love, stacked between two large pieces of bread and drowned in a great sauce. And if your cholesterol level hasn’t reached the top of the chart yet, consider Deep Fried Twinkies or Oreos for dessert!
Craig Young, writer for the Reporter-Herald in an article posted on November 14, 2016, said “Nobody will ever accuse Tom Armenti and Kevin Grabauer of selling health food.” The partners admit that may be true and they generally live and advocate for a healthy lifestyle. But once in a while it’s okay to indulge a craving or fortify yourself for a long night of studying, so “…put down the rice cake, enjoy some fat shack, and live a little!”