Dan Stone, director of franchise sales at The Melting Pot, a 140-unit-plus casual-dining chain, had spent months courting national lender CIT Group to garner preferential treatment for the fondue chain’s franchisees. He wrote letters to CIT’s head of small-business lending, Christine Reilly, and the Tampa, Fla.-based franchisor even agreed to make payments and run the restaurants of franchisees that default on loans for a full 12 months. Stone said he worked hard to ...

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