Rivera will Manage Daily Operations and Accelerate Franchise Growth
Smalls Sliders, a Louisiana-based burger concept backed by NFL legend Drew Brees and co-founded by Brandon Landry and Jacob Dugas, named Maria Rivera CEO. In this role, Rivera will manage Small Sliders’ daily operations and accelerate franchise growth. She brings an understanding of day-to-day operations and strategic leadership of national brands to the company.
Rivera was attracted to the burger franchise because of the opportunity to “help build something remarkable with amazing partners and a dynamic team. How many people can say they’ve taken something and allowed it to get the national recognition that it deserves? Not many. It is both humbling and exhilarating.”
Rivera understands that she has a responsibility to the brand’s investors and franchise partners. “That’s why I’m super-excited to build out our leadership team. We’re looking to bring together a team that is as obsessed — or slightly more obsessed — with the concept than I am. That way, all our team members become brand ambassadors like no other.”
The Smalls Sliders Concept
Smalls Sliders is one of the coolest concepts Rivera has seen in the last decade. “The brand plays in the fresh and high-quality QSR space, and it specializes in grilling slammin’ cheeseburger sliders with service executed via drive-thru and walk-up window experiences. Honestly, those cheeseburger sliders are very much worth all the hype, and you can’t have just one.”
When 10 Point Capital, Landry, and Rivera started talking about Smalls, she was determined to be convinced. “Those who know me know I won’t take on an opportunity unless the product is truly worth it. So, I flew down to Louisiana, not sure what to expect, and was met with the ‘Biggie Smalls,’ which adds double the meat and cheese to our classic cheeseburger sliders.” Rivera believes everyone should have a favorite menu item, and the Biggie Smalls became hers.
“Eating the sliders evoked all kinds of feelings, and at that moment, I felt a personal connection with the brand. I know that Smalls Sliders will do amazing things. Nobody is doing what Smalls Sliders is doing right now well. The format was a drive-thru and walk-up ordering only, even before the pandemic. The differentiated, intentionally limited menu, strong unit economics, and unique small footprint container design of the restaurants are a no-brainer to potential franchisees.”
Throughout her career, Rivera worked with major players in the franchising space. She led the U.S. business at Krispy Kreme and got started in the franchise industry as vice president of operations at TGI Fridays.
The people who are passionate about building products and services that establish relevant brands are Rivera’s favorite part of franchising. “Franchising is a privilege and an amazing opportunity. Throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to help create value for those who choose to bet on us and our businesses and allow them to build vibrant enterprises.”
Private Equity and Franchising
To Rivera, the importance of private equity in franchising cannot be overstated. “It’s about having a partner that has the same values and the ability to partner to scale the business.” With 10 Point Capital, Smalls has found a well-established, knowledgeable, and dynamic private equity firm that has a reputation for growing successful restaurant brands and is also bullish about the concept. “Our values are well-matched, and we’re locked in step, growing the brand together.”
Additionally, private equity can give entrepreneurs the space to do meaningful work without being constrained by a lack of experience or resources. “Its backing is critical to a brand’s continued evolution, but it must be the right one. Only then, can we make a meaningful impact on the brand, the team and our guests.”