Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, the Dallas-based sandwich brand with more than 400 locations across the globe, has officially announced the promotion of Cherry Hearn to president of the company. Hearn brings experience as both a multi-unit Which Wich franchisee and General Counsel for the brand to the role, as well as an accomplished career as a CPA and attorney prior to joining the brand.
“The sandwich segment is more competitive than ever and as a 15 year old company we are committed to evolving to meet our current and future customer needs,” says Hearn. “Being a leader in the segment means consistently reinforcing our franchisees’ trust in the leadership team and, as a former franchisee in the system, I understand the experience and the support required for Which Wich to win in the local markets that we serve. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working with all stakeholders in the brand to keep building a strong future for Which Wich.”
Hearn began her career as a CPA with her own firm in Austin, practicing for 14 years before making the decision to go to law school at the University of Colorado-Boulder and enter the legal field. After working for a commercial litigation firm in Denver, Hearn was recruited by Travelocity to move to Dallas and become the then-upstart company’s first intellectual property attorney. After her time at Travelocity, she set up her own practice in Dallas, which is how she first met Which Wich founder Jeff Sinelli who only had three Which Wich locations open at the time. In a “David vs. Goliath” victory, Hearn won a trademark infringement case for Sinelli and Which Wich against a major fast food company using the brand’s name.
“Through preparing for that trademark infringement case, I learned everything I could about Jeff, the Which Wich brand and the state of the sandwich industry at the time. That research led me to believe that no one had the vision that Jeff had for a better sandwich experience. My husband and I decided we wanted to get in on the ground floor of Which Wich. It happened pretty quickly. I met Jeff in April 2005 and we had signed a franchise agreement by July,” says Hearn.
Hearn moved to Austin and opened only the eighth Which Wich location at the time, ultimately opening two more locations in the years after. However, after Which Wich’s first international deal in 2011, and based on the company’s substantial growth in the previous years, Sinelli reached out to Hearn again – this time about joining the corporate team to lend her expertise to the increasing legal support needed for the growing company. Hearn sold her locations and moved to Dallas in 2012 to take on the role of General Counsel, a position she would serve in for seven years and register every trademark that Which Wich owns today.
Now, as Sinelli shifts more attention to the expansion of Which Wich parent company Sinelli Concepts International following the acquisition of Paciugo Gelato Caffe in 2017, plans to launch Supernova Coffee in 2020 and with more brands in development, he has turned to Hearn again, this time to take the helm of Which Wich and drive the brand’s future.
“Cherry has been a vital piece of the Which Wich puzzle since the very beginning and understands the DNA of our brand better than anyone else,” adds Sinelli. “I have full faith that we will continue to revolutionize the sandwich industry behind Cherry’s leadership and look forward to this next chapter in our journey.”
Hearn is immediately focusing on evaluating efficiencies and operations at the corporate level while also enhancing corporate support for Which Wich franchisees. She will work on strengthening relationships with third party delivery service providers to improve integration and the company’s competitive edge in that growing space. She will also focus on the company’s training program, attraction and retention of talent in a tight labor market, marketing efforts and menu innovation.
“It’s our duty to continually ask ourselves, ‘What are more ways we can continue to be relevant to all of our customers?’ We are heavily invested in research into new menu options and making sure we understand our customer and who our customer will be in the years to come,” says Hearn. “There are a lot of challenges that our franchisees are facing such as increased competition and a tight labor market, so it’s important that they know and feel that a former franchisee has their back and understands those ups and downs. However, I also have a lawyer’s mentality so compliance is key for us to be successful. We have to make sure that all of our franchisees are operating in a way that benefits and has a positive impact for others in the system.”
Like all members of the Which Wich team, Cherry got to pick her “Vibe” – the black-and-yellow emblem representative of her passion – when she first joined the brand more than a dozen years ago. Her vibe displays “26.2,” the distance of a marathon. Hearn has run in marathons and half marathons for years and she understands that, like with distance running, focusing on the end goal is key.
“When you’re training and competing in a marathon, endurance and overcoming any adversity and obstacles is key. The way to win and succeed is to keep going and keep the vision. That’s the approach I will be taking in moving the Which Wich brand forward.”