The Fat Shack® was created in February of 2010 by Tom Armenti. After graduating with a degree in Marketing from The College of New Jersey, Tom set out to bring his College and surrounding town a desperately needed solution to their lack of late-night food options. With only $5,000 on hand to start the business, Tom creatively partnered with RJ’s Bagels, a local bagel shop which opened daily for breakfast and closed after lunch. Once RJ’s left for the day, Tom would re-open the store and operate his new concept from 6PM to 4AM.
Sharing the small bagel store was difficult, however, and Tom was forced to have his weekly supplies delivered to the garage of his college house. Each night he would head out to the freezers in the garage and load his car full of bread, french fries, chicken fingers and everything else needed to get through a night’s worth of business.
The business steadily grew over the next year, but the strain of sharing the space became more and more difficult. It was time to build out the first full Fat Shack store. After visiting family in Northern Colorado, Tom knew that a town like Fort Collins was the perfect place to set up shop. He returned to Jersey, packed his car, moved halfway across the country and opened the doors to Fat Shack Fort Collins in August 2011. In a city with the most fast-casual restaurants per person and a population that had never heard of the Fat Sandwich, it became an immediate hit!
In its first year, the volume of business in Fort Collins more than doubled what Tom had been able to produce in the bagel shop back in Jersey. Recognizing the opportunity to expand into cities throughout Colorado and beyond, Tom knew he couldn’t do it alone. The answer was back in Jersey with college classmate and close friend, Kevin Gabauer. Leaving the salary and benefits from a career in “Corporate America” behind, Kevin packed up and made his way to Colorado.
Kevin and Tom got to work immediately re-organizing the menu, refreshing the company’s brand and simplifying operations. Within six months, Fat Shack opened another location On the Hill in Boulder. With proof of concept now behind them, Kevin and Tom positioned the Fat Shack for franchising. In February of 2015, Fat Shack celebrated the grand opening of its first franchise in Denver at DU. Fat Shack now has 11 locations throughout the United States. It has come a long way from hauling cars full of Philly cheesesteaks and mozzarella sticks from the garage to the bagel store - but they will never forget the “whatever it takes” attitude that made the Fat Shack what it is today.