The melt-in-your-mouth taste of Downtown Berkeley’s Cinnaholic will soon be experienced by customers across the country and abroad after a successful reality television show appearance.
Florian Radke, 35, and Shannon Radke, 34, husband-and-wife owners of the popular vegan cinnamon roll store, recently joined forces with Atlanta Franchise Group to expand their business to 100 stores in the next five years. Shortly after being featured on ABC’s reality show “Shark Tank” on May 9, Cinnaholic’s social media presence grew, and the business started receiving inquiries from all over the world, said Florian Radke, who spoke on behalf of the couple.
“Social media is super important to us due to the fact that there’s nothing like this in the U.S. as far as Google tells me, and people get excited about the concept,” Radke said, who handles Cinnaholic’s marketing endeavors and social media visibility. “The whole concept of creating your own roll is completely new.”
Cinnaholic, which currently has just one store, located at the intersection of Oxford and Center streets, boasts more than 30 different toppings and more than 30 kinds of frosting.
Florian Radke stressed the importance of the first three to five stores’ success, emphasizing that their public perception will be what draws customers and helps the business grow.
Spencer Reid, a founder of the franchise group, said Cinnaholic is in talks to open stores in California, Texas, Minnesota, Georgia, Florida and New York, as well as at the international level in Canada and India. He believes the Radkes are running a business that will sustain itself in the long term.
“To combine really amazing cinnamon rolls with the vegan way of life has created a cult following,” Reid said in an email. “The country is trending to a more healthy way of eating in general, and to have a treat that is better for you than other alternatives is extremely unique.”
After the Radkes’ appearance on “Shark Tank,” Robert Herjavec, an investor on the show, offered them a $200,000 investment that they declined due to differences in vision for Cinnaholic’s future success and profit. Radke, however, said “Shark Tank” has remained unfailingly supportive of Cinnaholic even after he and his wife turned down the deal.
“It’s not about making the quick money right now — it’s about a long-term goal,” Florian Radke said. “Shannon and I really want to make sure that this business grows healthy and that we don’t make any mistakes and lose the quality of what we have created.”
Leanne Carroll, a former UC Berkeley student who frequents Cinnaholic, was surprised to hear that it is expanding and wondered how it will fare in a city that is not as pedestrian-oriented as Berkeley.
“It’s an original idea, and it’s a great option for vegans,” Carroll said. “I wonder how it would do in other places, where you would have to drive to get a cinnamon roll.”
The husband-wife business partners aim to give each of their franchises the same amount of attention and care that they give their Berkeley store, Florian Radke said, adding that he wants customers and employees to “consider Cinnaholic a family.”
“We started as a family business, and we will keep it a family business,” Florian Radke said. “We want to make sure you want to be a part of this family, and we’ll take good care of you.”