CAMILLE’S SIDEWALK CAFE Franchise Complaints

The Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe franchise has a shockingly high SBA loan default rate of 58%.

Are you familiar with the Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe franchise opportunity? Please share a comment below.

Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise is owned by Beautiful Brands, franchisor of the Freshberry and Rex’s Chicken franchises.  (Also readBEAUTIFUL BRANDS Franchise Complaints)   It was founded by Camille and David Rutkauskas.

According to the Small Business Administration, Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe franchisees have received 66 SBA-guaranteed loans to date; more than half of those loans have been defaulted on by Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe franchise owners.

The Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe Franchise has a failure rate of 58% for SBA-backed franchise loans

Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise website lists 32 US locations currently open.  It claims “With hundreds territories in development worldwide Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe continues to grow…”

What Camille’s Sidewalk Café doesn’t mention is that it’s likely that Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise owners who received SBA loans may have collateralized their franchise loan with their houses or other personal assets, and more than half were unable to repay those franchise loans… despite serious incentive to do so.

The Camille’s U.S. franchise network has shrunk 60% since 2008

Camille's Sidewalk CafeIn 2007, Beautiful Brands claimed that it had 100 Camille’s Sidewalk Cafés open and “more than 800 franchise agreements worldwide.”

The Camille’s Sidewalk Café 2011 Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) indicates that in the beginning of 2008 there were 81 Camille’s franchises open in the U.S..

By the end of 2010, that number had dropped to just 41 U.S. franchises.

As of June, 2012, there are 32 Camille’s U.S. locations listed on their website. The Camille’s U.S. franchise network has shrunk 60% since 2008.

Are you familiar with the Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise opportunity?

What do you think accounts for the SBA loan failure rate of Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise owners?

What steps should Camille’s Sidewalk Café and Beautiful Brands be taking to stop further franchise failures?

Have Camille and David Rutkauskas taken serious action to address the problems that led to the 58% loan failures?

Please share a comment, opinion or insight below.



Tags:  Camille’s Sidewalk Café, Camille’s franchise, Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise, Camille’s Sidewalk Café complaints, fast casual franchise, café franchise, sandwich franchise, franchise opportunity, restaurant franchise, food franchise, franchise failure rate, worst franchise, sba failure rates, SBA franchise loans, franchise information, Camille, Rutkauskas, David Rutkauskas

31 thoughts on “CAMILLE’S SIDEWALK CAFE Franchise Complaints

  • Camille’s sidewalk cafe has a high default rate because there is no support. Franchisees cannot get a hold of them and they put no effort into helping them with support. The concept is ran by family that has no real restaurant or business experience other than watching the food channel.

  • Beautiful Brands which is Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe parent company. They have moved on from Camille’s and are doing the same thing with there other brands. They make most of their money from franchise fees and development deals. 

  • Franchisee

    As a former Camille ‘s Sidewalk Cafe franchisee, we can speak from a painful experience that there is no support from the franchisor. There continues to be a great deal of deception as well in alluding to the so-called “development” of several hundred franchises world wide!! We were the only cafe in Michigan despite being told there were several in development in the Detroit area. The food service company , US Foods, was a nightmare to deal with since they struggled to service our one store. With delayed deliveries, missing items, and poor service, we were continuously forced to buy food at retail prices to compensate for missing items.

    The only marketing plan Camille’s ever suggested was to give your food away free with bogo offers and free wrap nights. Of even greater disapointment was the lack of professional support / training when we first opened the store. We were sent a 19 year old that was an hourly employee in a Camille’s restaurant who ended up going out with our female employees! We did have one other corporate staff person who tried to offer support. Last but not least, there was absolutely NO field staff overseeing restaurant operations. Consequently, when we would visit other Camille’s cafes in other states, we would find a total lack of adherence to operational policies and procedures that were supposed to be governed by the franchisor. This total lack of consistency among franchisees hurt all of us that tried to maintain high standards and strong operations. Camille and David collect their franchise fees, including the required additional development fees, when there is no possibility for development, no support staff, and no enforcement of operational standards. With all of these major problems causing a high rate of restaurant closures, they continue to turn their heads, once they have their money, and move on to other concepts, leaving the franchisee on his/her own to survive with a total lack of support.

  • Beautiful Brands International (BBI) sold 14 franchises for their Coney Beach hot dog franchise before they even opened the first prototype store.

    They obviously did zero market research before taking people’s franchise fees. When asked why they would expand into Chicago, the hot-dog capitol where other hot dog chains failed miserably, “Rutkauskas reasoned that if you are scared, you shouldn’t be in the business.”

    When the Coney Beach concept failed miserably, David Rutkauskas told Tulsa World “I don’t think we realized that people don’t eat hot dogs three times a week,” he said.

    Seriously? He admits to doing NO research into hot dog consumption before inducing people to invest in a hot dog franchise? Of course he wasn’t scared of selling hot dogs in Chicago – It wasn’t his money (home, 401K, credit) at risk.

    People who sell franchises with no real concern for their franchisees should be banned from business, not given Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

  • Former Franchisee

    Don’t walk away from this opportunity. Run like a greyhound. We signed up for 50K for three sites, they turned down every location and after 3 years we asked to get out and they said it was 50K for services rendered. We took what we had left and bought an existing restaurant. It has been 5 years and we are opeing our second. Forget Camille’s and her greedy husband. I battled life threatening illness at the time and the most they could do for me was extend my developing agreement. I am a firm believer that what goes around comes around and they will get what they deserve.
    I am thankful in a way, because had i spent $350K I would have lost it all.
    Open up a Frozen yogurt place and you don’t need a franchise to do that.

  • Anonymous

    I am an ex-franchisee of Camille’s who ended up losing every penny I had earned and saved. My family and I lost everything.

    I blame myself for not doing my homework, not talking to every franchisee that was out there. But in essense this company and it’s leader desire nothing more than to take the money of people they convince their concept is great. I was lied to about food and labor costs and profit margins.

    I read an article on David once and when asked what his goal was he said it was to become a millionaire. That says it all…..not to help people become successful, no , become a millionaire and he did it on the backs of people who’s lives were ruined.

    I was welcomed with open arms at first, paid for a multi-unit territory and after we failed were told we didn’t really ever have enough money to last. Isn’t it thier responsibility to decide that prior to me paying franchisee fees?

    We had zero support from day one through the last day. Like another mentioned the total of our marketing support was to do a BOGO and we lost our ass.
    Once you are in trouble they stop taking your calls period.

    US Foods did not carry the ingredients we saw in Tulsa so we were given crap to sell.

    The people working there are all family members too scared to confront David. They tell you behind his back that his ways are not professional and in some cases cross the line of what a franchisor is allowed to tell an prospective franchisee but if you want your job you play along with him.

    I was told at our interview before we had signed our agreement that if we signed up to “prepare to live a lifestyle we had only dreamed about”. Well that came true, convincing mysler daily not to drive my car into a tree because I was worth more dead than alive was a different lifestyle.

    Stay away, run as fast as you can, this is nothing more than a scam designed to take your money with no support in exchange.

  • Comment Retracted

    Well I could on w this senerio for pages. Simply put Dave R should be tried and prisoned for the way he treated us and other franscises. We had purchased rights to 7 locations in MN and opened 2 one Waite park and one in rochester near the Mayo clinic. Dido prior comments. Although they helped in opening the sites that was it!
    All support was gone when we continued to struggle with shitty and high priced food prices and losey support from us foods. We had to find our own vendor with very high prices , Cisco. Two other franchisers in Minneapolis opened 4 restraunts and despite long experiences in the restaurant business were unable to make a go of it. The whole ordeal cost me millions,frustration, drove my to son to drink and leave the business, and a law suite and judgement for payment os a long term lease. All in all it comes down to lack of support and pricing that Camille’s couldn’t offer. Dave was interested in selling his francises collecting his money and and leaving town. I would like to some day see him on CNBC American greed after they lock him away.

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  • chuck perry

    Well let’s say this was the worst thing I did. This also cost my family our life savings. There were no support once you signed up. I reopen with food about the same and was able to save 5 to 10% on everything I purchased as Camille’s. Then they turn into a franchise selling company, that way David can make a quick buck and golf everyday. Someone please turn the table on them.

  • I was taken!!

    Don’t want to add more salt to the wound. It’s too painful to recollect bad experiences as a franchisee. Everything bad about Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe had been said accurately by those who shared their comments. Total greed… “what comes around goes around, ten fold”

  • Anonymous x-Franchisee

    WE LOST EVERYTHING. Why has there not been a Class Action law suit initiated yet???

  • Anonymous ex-franchisee

    It is a very sad commentary for Camille Sidewalk Cafe that most franchisees have had the exact same horrible experience. I opened two locations in Illinois and ultimately lost over a million dollars and declared bankruptcy. Although David was very chummy when we signed up for the franchise that quickly turned to greed as he refused to help us with running the stores or suspend royalties while we struggled to make ends meet. I will never open a franchise again and would strongly advise anyone considering this opportunity to stop and back away! This has brought my family nothing but heartache and financial ruin. I only wish someone had shared what was going on with me before I signed on the dotted line.

  • The success of a franchisor is measured by the success of their franchisees. When a franchisor is succesful but his franchisee fail he to is a failure. When a franchisor becomes very wealthy and most of his franchisees lose everything, then exploits his original fabricated succuss to develop a business model to expand his fortune on the failure of his past and future franchisees, that is fraud.

  • I am also someone who believed in and trusted in the Camille’s franchisor and his brand, only to find out when the ink was dry and the check cleared I got screwed, just like all the other franchisees who wrote comments. There was no support when needed. Could not reach him at any time by phone. Emails went unanswered and when I did get a response, I was told by him that he was too busy , that I would have to deal with someone else. Too busy taking someone else’s money instead of trying to help franchisees become successful. No one in corporate seemed to have the experience needed to solve problems, It seemed like they were learning as they went along. The franchisor is a VERY greedy man and if there is a buck to be made he is there with his hands in your pocket, in fact so greedy he stole our catering customers for his own cafe. He also did some very unethical things related to catering that I do not wish to put into this blog. This is NOT a franchise I would recommend to anyone, as I know a lot more than I can say here.

  • Former Franchisee

    Well, I got the lawyer letter today to ceast and desist. The good news is that David is reading our posts the bad news is David is reading our posts. I will change one thing, Camilles did approve a site and then the landlord said no because of a non-compete.
    Take a look at the Camille’s Restaurant in Rhode Island and you could see they have the same name using the same font and said they never would have allowed us to use the name since they have used it for 75 years.

  • Thanks very much for telling us about the cease & desist letter, Greg.

    If others have received similar letters from Beautiful Brands, please share your experience here and/or send me an email at UnhappyFranchisee[at] Please send a copy of the letter if you are willing. I can send you a physical address for hard copies.

    Such bullying tactics and attempts to kill franchisees’ 1st Amendment right to free speech should not be tolerated by a free society. is determined to end such tactics, and to give both sides of each issue a forum to open discussion out in the light of day. Good franchisors have nothing to fear by open discussion, and bad franchisors are going to get the bad press they deserve.

    A note to Beautiful Brands: Feel free to enter into the conversation in the comments section of any post. Submit a rebuttal, clarification or company statement and we will be happy to publish it in its entirety. However, if you choose to bully our readers or try to stifle free speech, you will not do so secretly or out of the public eye as may have been possible in the past.

    Welcome, all, to the age of transparency in franchising.


  • ex-Camille's Sidwalk Cafe franchisee

    I am an ex-Camille’s Sidwalk Cafe franchisee who also lost everything and felt a strong need to add to this discussion. David is a slickster that will tell you anything to get you to sign up. Once signed everything changes. No support whatsoever, only a lot of excuses. Camille’s SC is not a good business model and its extremely difficult for a franchisee to succeed.

    David pushes a lot of publicity to take credit for the success of Camille’s (if you call decieving franchisees a success) but if you really want to know the truth you have to look a little deeper. I was one of the early franchisees so I know the history pretty good. About 4 years after opening Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in the mall in Tulsa, David hired a company (fransmart) to help them franchise. Truth be told, fransmart was mainly responsible for the success of Camille’s. But of course David never mentions anything like that. He makes it out like it was all his doing. Ask around the industry and you’ll hear the truth.

    Not too long after being with Fransmart, David’s David’s sleezeball ways kicked in and the two companies (fransmart and camilles) had a falling out and parted ways. If you don’t believe me, google it.

    David claims he’s some great franchise expert but in reality, he doesn’t know much about growing a company through franchising the right away. Beautiful brands is a joke. He put this company together because of the decline of Camilles.

    They truly don’t have very much experience as a franchise company but they make it seem like they have been helping companies franchise for 25 years. Its just not true.

    I suggest you google beautiful brands, look at the numerous announcements about them bringing aboard a new company, then see how many of those companiese are still with them. I’m confident you will be shocked. Several companies have hired beautiful brands and are no longer with them after a SHORT time period. This tells you a lot!

    I really have a lot more I could say but will not at this time….

    I’m posting in hopes of truly saving you from the nightmare experience that my family went through with David R. He should be sued and I’m sure its only a matter of time!

  • WHOA – STOP AND PLEASE READ THIS – I’m warning you – DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH BBI or Rutkauskas or you will be extremely sorry that you did!

    If the information posted above was available sooner it would have saved us a lot of time, money and B.S. We lost everything! They will tell you anything to convince you but all of it is a bunch of crap.

    We are former franchisees and the company is so full of you know what it makes me sick. I strongly urge you to do your due diligence. They will tell you different and some crap about franchisees not following their systems but you need to ask around to discover the truth. We did everything to a T and still lost our asses. We had no support, no help, nothing. Their attitude changed the second we paid our fee. It was text book amazing!

    Look at how many companies have signed up with them and then just a short while later are no longer affiliated with them. Facts are facts. As the comments above mention, I am also hoping to save some people of having this same fate but it is up to you to look for more information. Best of luck.

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    You reap what you sow

    To David, Camille, his family and non family who work or have worked at Beautiful Brands. I know you are all sitting back laughing at us former franchisees thinking these post won’t change anything for us. You’re right about that. My only satisfaction is the life full of paranoia you all will have. With the Internet your friends and family will see these post and be able to see the truth. It won’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Its easy to see that when you(David) talk about your success. It is always about your big sale to a unsuspecting new franchisee of your new unproven concept. It is never about about the success or combined success of your franchisee with one of your concepts. Its never about the franchisee who became rich investing their hard earned money into a Beautiful Brands concept. Why out of the the hundreds of franchisees sold has no franchisee came forward to defend or dispute all these post or to tell about their success with Beautiful Brands. The only satisfaction I see is as all your children grow up, your children will see these post and realize that the wealth they grew up with was stolen and not earned by destroying hundreds of families. That when you nonchalantly write a check for their Ivy League school that we are still struggling to swing getting our kids into community college on a scholarship. When we all bought into your con we all had a fair amount of money. David you know you cant open up one of your $500,000 concepts without cash in bank, and cash in your home with good credit. You and your entourage will always have to wonder what your family really knows and really thinks about your self proclaimed and self promoted success. Your family and family members who worked at Beautiful Brands will probably always have money not needing to work anymore. But for the non family members putting Beautiful Brands on a resume will hopefully carry the same stigma as working for Enron.

  • Ex-Employee

    I am an ex employee of Camilles, and I must say it was a horrible job. Everything’s kind of “pretend”. The owner told me he should have never gotten into the business, which his just closed. Basically, it’s a huge soup and salad kitchen. So throw in first off, the huge percentage rate taken off the top which I don’t exactly remember what is what, maybe 15, and paid monthly, there was little and I do mean a very little profit margin.
    After all the food costs were paid, the rent from the mall, utilities, franchise fees, I was told nothing was left for the owner. The computer system was rented per month, the Point of Sale, or POS system that is. Even the music supplied was almost a racquet, I think it was a rented system, or at least the songs were fashioned for the franchise, and news discs could be bought, for a price. That’s the kicker with Camille’s, everything for a price. Even Camille herself would chime in every other song with a pre recorded message and give a public service announcement pertaining to “California fusion” concepts. It was beyond annoying, hearing her over and over all day, so much the owner paid money to the business in league with Camille’s to get music without her talking.
    Basically, so many middle men are involved in the franchise, nothing is left over, and remember, we’re talking about selling wraps, soup and salads to pay off what was supposed to be a 80 – 90 thousand dollar start up cost, but ballooned into a middle man payoff scheme with Camille’s getting the monthly dividend.
    Franchise fees, U.S. Foods (VERY high priced food), POS rent, Audio System Music Rental Rights, Space Lease, Employee Costs, Taxes, Security Systems with Video Feed, Paper Supplies, the desk computers on and on, hawking colored chips and smoothies just can’t pay all the bills in this economy.
    The business model is like that of Kirby, hire people to sell the vacuums, you make the money, they eventually go broke, move to another area, start over. Camille’s is like a legal Pyramid Scheme, leaving a path of heartache and sorrow in it’s wake. Rinse and Repeat business model, meanwhile the Camille and Dave lose nothing with the sweat and money of others.
    I now work in a different restaurant that much, much more busy than the Camille’s Sammy Slop Shop, and it still takes a lot of hard work to turn a profit with foods like steaks, salmon, etc, so Camille’s was doomed from the start.

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  • Camille's Franchisee

    We were one of the early franchisees and because there were so few restaurants opened we did not have the advantage learning of the experience of others. Everything I have read here is accurate for our experience too. We will never recover financially. This venture was to be our road to retirement, as it turns out our retirement will be dependent on SS and what we have been able to save since closing our restaurant three years ago. The outcome of our experience with Camille’s is definitely not what we planned and definitely not the outcome we were sold.

  • Entrepreneur

    As an -almost- customer of Camille’s in Hayward (closed), CA, I can tell you this poor giant location had only ONE customer when I went inside. The owner looked so desperate for sales and now I understand why. It also didn’t help that the prices were extraordinarily high for the area. This place was trying to survive in a high Latino population where one can get more food for less money in the surrounding taquerias. Honestly, the prices were higher than StarBucks and so I walked right out without purchasing anything.

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  • “Business was good five years ago when Scott and Loretta Stephens opened Camille’s Sidewalk Café on the ground floor of the downtown office tower called Bank of America Plaza.

    “Eight months later, the recession hit, followed by a series of construction projects on the plaza just outside the front door that discouraged foot traffic.

    “From March 2008 to November 2008, we did great,” Loretta Stephens recalled. But business “took a dive the day after the election, and it has been in the pits ever since.”

    We hope the $4M plaza renovation will turn things around for the Stephens. I’m sure the BBI home office is helping them prepare for their relaunch. Hope they don’t get their rent jacked up! Best of luck Scott and Loretta!

  • unhapoy franchisee

    I was a Camille’s franchisee and purchased the right to develop 20 units. I opened two within six months and closed both after 18 months. The worst financial experience of my life. I personally lost over $500K in that short period of time. There was absolutely no corporate support and I was extremely disappointed. I should have done a better homework on the concept before embarking on it. I echo everything that everyone else has said. An extremely unprofessional company. David cared about no one but David. It was sad to see so many people lose so much.

  • I just been sexually harassed on FB by the founder and CEO David Rutkauskas and then insulted and threatened for rejecting him. I’m in shock. This man is the owner of this business? I have saved messaged and everything as evidence. I’m afraid other women have also faced these horrible behavior.

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