Chargrill Charlie's Melbourne franchisee

Chargrill Charlie’s turns IT expert into ardent business owner

Sarah Stowe

When Chargrill Charlie’s Malvern franchisee Brian Filleti began his franchisee training he had zero hospitality experience – ‘I couldn’t even cut chicken!’ he laughs.

Today the former banking IT expert is a passionate business owner ready to take his beloved chicken brand to new heights in Melbourne.

He explains how it all started.

“I had been at the same banking firm for 22 years when I was asked to join Chargrill Charlie’s Chicken to help with tech and operations. I was ready for a change, but at that stage I wasn’t thinking of owning my own business.”

Brian went to Chargrill Charlie’s HQ in Sydney and helped implement the online catering system, and worked on some app projects.

He was impressed with what he saw and his seven month stint at head office ramped up his enthusiasm for the brand.

From IT expert to passionate franchisee

“When I was there I realised quite quickly it would be a logical, and exciting, step to buy my own store.”

Brian’s strategy was to learn all he could about operating a store first-hand before buying his own.

Introduced to a fellow ex-banker, Phil, who was the first Chargrill Charlie’s Melbourne franchisee, Brian initially stepped up as his right-hand man.

“Phil and I effectively launched the brand in Melbourne. The brand has been rightly famous in Sydney for more than 30 years; here we were starting from scratch.”

Brian is clear that what sets the much-loved brand apart is the amazing food, and the family feel.

“The product we have is unique, like a home-cooked meal made for you, and our customers love it. They also appreciate and connect with the family feel in the business.

“I’ve never seen it with any other brand, it’s special, there’s a real magic to it. When someone comes into your store, it’s as if they are entering your home.

“We’re very generous too, particularly with our servings. You’ll never walk away hungry from Charlie’s!

Chargrill Charlie’s is a powerful brand

Brian spent nearly three years at the Camberwell store as manager, learning about the operations and leadership in store. It was a valuable experience, he says.

“Covid was a challenge, but we got through some of the toughest times as business owners. It resonated with me, that if Charlie’s could withstand that, it is a powerful brand,” says Brian.

And it was a revelation to discover how much he loves customer engagement!

“That’s what is fantastic about Charlie’s – you get involved heavily in local communities, and build relationships with regular customers. This is what I love about being part of the Charlie’s family.”

In December 2021 Brian and Phil went into partnership together, opening the second Victorian Chargrill Charlie’s, at Malvern.

Among marketing initiatives to drive business, he contacted corporate companies to promote the catering offer he had helped to implement years before!

“The catering is the cream of the business. First and foremost you have to have a solid base of regular customers. What the catering does is turn a good week into a great week,” he says.

New franchisor delivers for franchisees

Chargrill Charlie’s was owned by the founding family when Brian bought his franchise. It has since become part of the multi-brand business, Craveable Brands.

It’s been a move that has had real benefits for franchisees, he believes.

“There is a level of energy there that starts with head office, the team seems to genuinely care about people. When something crops up that needs a solution, we can turn to Craveable. If there is an issue with the supply chain, they step in and tell us what will happen, they are right on top of it.

“It’s the same with staffing issues. Craveable has a department that assists you through the whole process to get the best outcome.”

The franchisor’s scale enable it to bring an incredible pool of resources to franchisees.

“Head office will be able to boost efficiencies and introduce tools that help us be better at what we do. They share the same core values and are very good at maintaining the family feel at Chargrill Charlie’s,” says Brian.

Chargrill Charlie’s Melbourne franchisee achieving goals

From an IT expert with no kitchen skills, he is now an experienced franchisee who knows what it takes to succeed in hospitality.

“Hospitality is seven days a week, it’s nights, you’re working when everyone’s on holiday.

You need lots of commitment, but the reward is there. It comes down to the work you are prepared to put in. It’s not going to happen if you’re at home on Friday night.”

Brian points out that becoming his own boss was a lifestyle shift not a career move. And he’s been happy to swap his daily corporate grind for business ownership.

This Melbourne franchisee even has plans for a second Chargrill Charlie’s store.

“This is a lucrative business. On a personal level, I’m ahead of my expectations. My wife and I have some goals: to live mortgage free and put our son through a good education.

“I have a vision of where I want to get to. I see Chargrill Charlie’s as that opportunity.

“When I was earning a good wage in IT, it didn’t matter how hard I worked, my income didn’t change. Here I know if I keep working hard at getting more customers in, keeping them happy, serving great food and great service, I can achieve my goals.”