Anthony Reza Solhi: Predatory Scammer or Innocent Victim?
July 21, 2009
The company was still a good investment. If it had survived, it would have prospered. Anthony Reza Solhi
According to numerous press reports and dozens of alleged victims, Anthony Reza Solhi is a predatory con man who preyed on the hopes and dreams of recent immigrants, drove a Porsche and bought a mansion with an indoor pool with their life savings. According to the 2007 CTV.ca article Taking Your Dough:
According to dozens of families – mostly newcomers to Canada — Solhi took their life savings and left them with nothing but untold debt and empty bank accounts…
…Dozens of cases revealed he had been at this scheme for years – first as 3-for-1 Pizza and Wings, followed by Pizza One, Pizza Uno and Anthony’s Kitchen. It appears Solhi has been up to no-franchise good for nearly 10 years.
After police charged Solhi, in 2004, with 25 counts of fraud involving 3-for-1 Pizza, victims thought they would recover their losses. A year later, the government dropped the charges against Solhi in exchange for paying $500,000 to some of the franchisees… But many of Solhi’s victims haven’t seen a penny.
…After close to twenty unpaid civil judgments against Solhi, totaling more than $1 million, Solhi is still trying to sell franchises.
FranchisePick.Com reported on the Solhi controversy (The Latest U.S. Import: Franchise Fraud, Another Pizza Franchise Scam Victim comes Forward), as did Michael Webster’s THE BIZOP NEWS. In fact, alleged victims of Reza Solhi maintain an entire website, Anthony’s Franchise Information, dedicated to negative news stories about the man they say scammed them.
But now Anthony Reza Solhi is fighting back. Solhi has launched an aggressive blogging campaign to tell his side of the story: That he is himself a victim of a predatory news media and misguided, unscrupulous franchisees.
Is Anthony Reza Solhi the REAL victim?
Solhi’s personal website, titled Ideas by Anthony Reza Solhi, begins with the statement that Solhi is owed a debt of gratitude for inventing the concept of delivering chicken wings with pizza:
In 1989, I started a small pizza company in Toronto, Canada, called 3 for 1 Pizza and Wings, the first chain to offer both pizza and wings for home delivery. Within 14 years, that little company grew to a nation-wide franchise with outlets from coast to coast. Its growth rate was unprecedented in the pizza home delivery industry. Many of its menu innovations would be copied by competitors, both in Canada and in the U.S., altering the way we eat in North America. These are minor achievments but I remain proud of the innovations I’ve left to the pizza home delivery industry and even of my small contribution to America’s fast-food palette.
This is a personal Web site I maintain. It tells a little of my story and contains information about the history of 3 for 1 Pizza and Wings. I periodically update it with commentary on business and franchising issues and responses to specific claims made with respect to 3 for 1 Pizza and Wings.
Reza Solhi’s blog contains his autobiographical account of how he, through hard work and innovation, built the fastest growing pizza chain in North America.
It also tells how the rapid collapse of his enterprise, as well as criminal and civil charges, were the result of many factors, none of them directly attributable to him.
In his section The Fall of 3 for 1 Pizza & Wings, Solhi blames his franchise department for picking bad franchisees:
With the company growing so fast, I was unable to remain involved in selecting franchises. That critical task was left in the hands of our franchising department. Unfortunately, with this change, the company started bringing in, not pizza-makers, but trouble makers.
The foolish franchisees went to the press with their complaints, a decision which eventually toppled the company. Writes Solhi:
As our company’s first decade in business came to a close, we found ourselves embroiled in an internal dispute sparked by company efforts to reduce employee theft (the food industry’s biggest cause of lost revenue). The disgruntled franchisees took their complaints to the press, and this became our first encounter with bad publicity. The Toronto Sun featured the dispute in a series of articles that were sympathetic to the franchisee cause, and which portrayed the company’s executive branch as being of questionable character. ..
Bad press hurts not just home office but every single hard-working franchisee affiliated with the company.
These first stories put an end to our efforts to expand into the U.S. and dried up much of the interest we had from prospective buyers in Canada…
As short-sighted franchisees began demanding their money back, Anthony Reza Solhi likened himself to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Anyone who has ever watched George Baily defend the New Bedford Building & Loan Association knows what happens when investors suddenly get it in their heads to demand their money back.
On a separate blog (Anthony Reza Solhi’s WordPress Blog) Solhi claims he is also being victimized by vindictive, extortionist franchisees who threatened to ruin him if he did not pay them off. Writes Solhi:
For two years or more, I have been the victim of an Internet-based effort intended to ruin my reputation and destroy my capacity to earn a living. One man, Gautam Malik (together with his wife, Nidhi Malik) has been the principle force behind this relentless attack… Sitting in my office, they told me in the most serious tone, that I would either refund their money or they would see to it that I was financially ruined. I remember their words to this day; “You better pay back our money or we will ruin your life and your business.”
…It is not enough for them that the company I loved and nurtured was destroyed and that I lost my fortune, my home, and my family; the Maliks are still unsatisfied. Four years after the Maliks came to see me that day, Gautam Malik and Nidhi Malik continue to pursue their personal vendetta against me.
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH ANTHONY REZA SOLHI? WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS HE A PREDATORY CON MAN OR A VICTIMIZED & MISUNDERSTOOD VISIONARY?
graphics source: Ideas by Anthony Reza Solhi