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Business

Wichita Entrepreneurs: The Humble Men Behind Freddy's

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James Rhiley
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Co-founders Bill Simon, Freddy Simon, Randy Simon and Scott Redler sit in a booth at a Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers in east Wichita.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country. In 2015, the restaurant saw a growth in sales of more than 30 percent. And while Freddy’s now has locations in 29 states--with its 200th restaurant opening in Nebraska in June--the roots of the business are in Wichita. Three humble men with visions of a simple burger joint and no intentions of starting a franchise started the concept.

As part of the KMUW Wichita Entrepreneurs series, Abigail Wilson sat down with Freddy himself and the rest of the top team at one of their restaurants in east Wichita.

Go here to listen to the full Freddy's story, watch vintage Freddy's commercials and see photos from the restaurant's history. 

Highlights from the interview:

"We all talked about…we have real jobs and that this is just a hobby, and we were just going to open one store from the very beginning. That was the intent, just open one store and bring steakburgers and the kinds of things we liked, frozen custard and things, to Wichita.” -Freddy's CEO, president and co-founder Bill Simon

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Credit Courtesy
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Freddy Simon, top left, and his family, including sons (and Freddy's co-founders) Bill and Randy.

“It’s been a real blessing to have this happen. Not only for a financial success like it’s been, but to be able to be in business with my brothers. And work with my dad. And that has been a blast.” -Bill Simon

"If we would have started in Tulsa or Oklahoma City, we might still be one store, but we started in west Wichita and a lot of people that had built their own businesses and built up a franchise organization around came to us and said, ‘well, let us know when you’re going to franchise because we really would like to do that.’ And I said, 'Oh, you know, we're really not going to franchise. We have our day jobs over here that we do, and this is just kind of a fun one that we want to do with Dad and Bill and Scott and I and just get it started. And, you know, it's not meant to be any kind of a national concept or anything.'” -Freddy's vice president and co-founder Randy Simon

"It’s important to remember that there’s risk in everything. Not everything you try is going to work. We’ve been very, very blessed, and it’s humbling what we’ve gone through with Freddy’s, but we get that. We understand that. And we appreciate it. And that’s why we give back in the community as much as we do.” -Freddy's chief operations officer and co-founder Scott Redler

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Credit Courtesy
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Freddy Simon and his son Randy sign a Freddy's employee's t-shirt at a restaurant.

"Freddy is also a co-founder of the company and our honorary chairman and our guiding light and the stalwart that we guide all of our principles by. All of our training, all of our hospitality is just a salute to Freddy and his life in the business world in Wichita.” -Randy Simon

"And I had the easiest job of all. All I had to do was say, ‘Hi, I’m Freddy!'" -Freddy Simon