Karnardo Garnett’s Habits of Success and How it Led Him to the Next Best Burger Franchise

Spotlight on People

Karnardo Garnett grew up in a small town in rural Georgia. “I grew up literally off a dirt-road, I come from a family of farmers.” His home was filled with lots of love, hospitality, and amazing food. Karnardo realized early that farming was not for him, and instead opted to carry on his family's tradition of hospitality and building relationships over great meals.                     

Because the agrarian lifestyle was not for him, Karnardo looked to the world of restaurants for his first job.  When he was 15, Garnett started out as a McDonalds team member at a franchise in his community. It was only right that Karnardo’s first job would provide him his first taste of the franchising business at the place known for its world-renowned burgers, a hint of what’s to come. He said that this initial exposure to the franchising business would have huge implications for how he operates his businesses later. “Now, we value career paths for employees more, it’s important to promote from within.” He added that “how much we pour into employees will add value to the entire organization.” 

Karnardo worked at McDonalds while in High School and after graduating, left his small town in Georgia for college. After graduating from the University of South Florida, Garnett began a career traveling all over the world, working for the top tech companies as a software engineer. After 12 years in the tech industry, the aspiring entrepreneur went back to school to get his law degree. Karnardo said he “went back to law school to get the resources I needed to get into the franchising business.” Around 2014, Karnardo launched his two businesses, Legacy Concessions and Legacy Hospitality, and started to get involved with top tier brands and restaurant franchises. Business was booming and Garnett felt great about his mid-life career change to dive into franchising. Then, Covid happened and Karnardo, like entrepreneurs the world over, was given the time to reset and re-evaluate his business pursuits. While Karnardo was considering how to expand and grow his business in this new era, Yum! Brands was finalizing their purchase of Habit Burger in March of 2020.

Habit Burger Era

When searching for the next franchise investment, “I wanted to partner with a brand like Yum! and I really wanted a hamburger concept.” When Yum! purchased Habit burger in March of 2020, they set out to open 2,000 locations. The opportunity to spearhead the launch of 10 new Habit Burger locations in the Tampa, Florida area presented itself to Karnardo soon after. Karnardo said “that's the kind of aggressive growth that I want to be a part of.” The opportunity to grow a brand really excited him. Part of Karnardo's business philosophy is to always look at propositions with two key questions that every potential franchisee should ask themselves. The first, can we meet a need? And second, can we deliver? Purchasing and opening 10 Habit Burgers really aligned with those two questions. Now, Karnardo’s Habit Burgers are set to debut in the Tampa Bay market this upcoming fall.

Looking back on his impressive career, Karnardo thinks that his past as a software engineer is one of the ways he was set up for success in franchising. “I like following formulas. When you find a franchise model with good infrastructure, good reputation, and great model, you’re not re-inventing the wheel. I can execute a recipe like nobody's business.” Karnardos strength as a businessman is putting together a strong team and bringing out the best in his employees, exactly the tools you need to become a successful franchisor. When asked for a piece of advice that he would give to an aspiring entrepreneur, he said “you have to believe in yourself, then you have to surround yourself with people who know more than yourself.” Karnardo named a few of the influential people who have helped shape his career including Regynald Washington and George Tinsley. Both of them are successful, black business owners and franchisees who have created opportunity for themselves and others, setting a strong example for leaders like Karnardo.

Harkening back to his days growing up right off a dirt road in Georgia, Karnardo reminds us that while nowhere is perfect, America remains the land of opportunity. “In America, you have the chance to take a risk at any time.”