I’m interested in buying a non food related franchise, where the franchisor requires the stores to remain open on shabbos and Jewish holidays. I’ve read a few different responses to similar questions, but am still confused on what my options are. I don’t necessarily want to take on a non jewish partner and give him the shabbos revenue. Would it be possible to specify in the franchise agreement that any money made on shabbos or jewish holidays would belong to the franchisor? Or could I give shabbos/holiday revenue to tzedakah? The above is all assuming that I would not be working there on shabbos/holidays , but non jewish employees would Thank you
ב"ה Shalom, The concept of a franchise is not clearly spelled out in the Talmud but only similar situations. This may be the reason why you have heard different answers. I myself also consulted two fellow Rabbis independently and that is why I have not answered you earlier. I received an answer from one Rabbi, but I have been waiting for the answer of the second. However, I didn't want to keep you waiting any longer and therefore, I will answer you now. If I have more to add after I have sent you this answer, I will send you a follow up. Firstly, I will lay out the assumptions of the legal aspect, upon which the answer is based. My understanding is that when you buy the business, you become the sole owner of the branch but you are subject to conditions of the franchisor and obviously you make payments to the franchisor, for using their name, learning their methods and training the work crew according to their methods etc. In addition, you will be paying a percentage of profits. As you said, you will not be working there Shabbat and the employers are non-Jewish. You can be compared somewhat to what Halacha views as a contractor. However, since the franchisor gets an agreed percentage, the business agreement cannot be looked upon as a regular partnership. Therefore, it should be stipulated that the profits of Shabbat belong to the franchisor. It should be defined in advance how much percent will go to the franchisor based upon an estimate what the income will be on Shabbat and holidays. Just for example, you should write in the contract with your lawyer, something to the effect that since the business will be open on Saturday (& holidays) by the will of the franchisor, the income of Saturdays belongs to the franchisor. Since the estimated income for Saturdays is x%, therefore x% will be given to the franchisor monthly for Saturdays. Since, the business will carry the name of the franchise, there is no issue of "Marit Ayin." As aforementioned, should I have anything more to add, I will write you again. All the best in your venture.