Three restaurants opened or expanded in Fort Collins in August and a handful of new restaurants are on their way in September Pat Ferrier

The Fort Collins-based company opens its 20th store this month as it gets ready for its 20th anniversary in January. Owner and founder Scott Jennings has the company on a trajectory to more than double the number of stores in three years.

“The brand deserves to be national,” Jennings said. The time is right given what he calls “the green bubble” — the increasing support for legalized medical and recreational marijuana.

Cheba Hut’s success — the company did more than $25 million in sales last year — means investors are calling, putting Jennings in a somewhat uncomfortable position.

He wants the additional capital, which could net between $10 million and $20 million, to meet his growth projections, but doesn’t want to give up control of the franchise he started in Tempe, Arizona, in 1998.

“In order for us to take care of our customers and our employees, which we believe are the same thing, taking the company national is inevitable,” Jennings said.

Whether that expansion occurs through investor funding, debt financing or franchising “will be a game-time decision. We need to see who is at the table and how much of our soul they would want,” Jennings said from his second-floor office off Link Lane, across from Flower Power Botannicals, one of the dozen pot shops in and around Fort Collins.

 

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