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Local businesses franchise brands, diversify 

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With the new year, homegrown Wilmington businesses are expanding their reach to meet demand for their products.

Nearly seven years ago Jay and Amy Muxworthy unveiled a second addition to the Flaming Amy’s brand, Flaming Amy’s Bowl, a make-your-own all-you-can eat hibachi style bistro at Long Leaf Mall near the intersection of Shipyard Boulevard and College Road. Now, in 2015, the Muxworthys are opening up opportunities for others to franchise the Flaming Amy’s Bowl concept and take it outside the central Wilmington area.

“When we first came up with the bowl we did it with the idea to duplicate it through corporately owned stores or franchises,” Jay Muxworthy said. “We opened in April 2008 and the economy put a stall on those plans, but now with things picking back up we decided it was time.”

Muxworthy believes the concept of the restaurant would be easy to handle for someone who does not have extensive restaurant experience due to the limited number of wait staff and cooks required. Furthermore, Muxworthy said the company would make its signature sauces in one location using a North Carolina bottling company and shipping them to all locations.

Ideally, Muxworthy said, they would like to see the next location open somewhere nearby, like Porter’s Neck, and then expand regionally from there to ensure the success of the first few franchises.

“The goal would be to start out regionally and see how it goes,” he said. “I think the first franchises are going to be the hardest ones to sell. I want to take it slow with the first few.”

Port City Java ended 2014 with the announcement it would attempt to reach a growing number of its customers using single-serve coffee brewers at home by creating single serve Port City Java coffee brew cups.

Port City Java CEO Steven Schnitzler said the Port City Java single serve cups contain 30 percent more coffee grounds than other single serve cups and the cups themselves are 100 percent recyclable. Schnitzler said it took a while to get the right formula for the coffee and to find a packer that could meet all of the criteria.

“It turned out to be quite a bit more of a challenge than we anticipated,” Schnitzler said. “We did a number of dry runs and it took well over a year of testing to come up with the formula that worked for us and find a packer. We wanted to be able to roast coffee and package it on that just-in-time basis so the coffee is as fresh as possible.”

Now the Port City Java single serve cups are sold in the cafés and online in boxes of a dozen cups.

On New Year’s Day Freaker USA, the local knit koozie company, announced it will spin out Freakers for its customers’ feet with the addition of the Freaker Feet sock line to its brand.

Instead of starting with a limited number of sock designs, Freaker founder Zach Crain said the company wanted to go big with 127 different designs due out this spring. Designs will include those found on existing Freakers, all 50 state flags, collegiate sports socks and 32 designs color themed after professional football teams.

“All the gift socks we see at the trade shows we go to are all outsourced from somewhere … and that is kind of silly because there are all these sock mills here in North Carolina,” Crain said. “We just wanted to go at it and blow it up instead of putting our foot in the water.”

From the materials to the packaging, all North Carolina companies will produce Freaker Feet.

Due to the fact that the mill requires Freaker to order at least 600 pairs of each of the 127 designs, Freaker has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital to pay for the initial run of socks. Within the first 24 hours of starting the campaign, Freaker Feet garnered 385 backers and nearly $20,000 of its goal of $250,000.

Crain said Freaker Feet is due out in May.

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