Small Business: In a Real Crunch

RACING TO START NATIONAL CHAINS, CEREAL CAFES ARE CHEWING ONE ANOTHER UP

David Roth's quirky idea for a restaurant--40 varieties of cereal served in a comfy, living-room-style café--has attracted both customers and attention with its playful décor and creative alternatives to greasy fast food. (Chex and Cheerios in chocolate soy milk with Pop Rocks, anyone?) Cereality's first three cafés, in Philadelphia, Tempe, Ariz., and Chicago, are thriving, but as the company tries to move from small-business start-up to national franchise, Roth has had to leave the fun and games aside to face a looming challenge for every new retail concept: once your idea proves itself, competitors flock, knowing that the initial risk has...

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