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Not fun for whole family, but maybe next best thing


Husband Doug and I have been married 28 years. The realization we probably shouldn’t work together full-time came earlier in our marriage when I was creating a valance for our window, and I asked him to help me hang it.

That was probably 20 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly what was said, only that hanging a curtain amounted to much gnashing of teeth—too much for what the job really entailed.

I think we’d be better at hanging that valance today, because we’ve learned how to compromise, we’re more patient and generally like to laugh a lot with each other. And, truth be told, now that there is a little more money at our disposal, we would probably hire someone else to hang it. (That would take care of that, wouldn’t it?)

We’ve cultivated some knowledge about each other over the years, that’s true. But, I still don’t know if we should work together. That may be testing the marriage gods a little too much. As comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family.”

So I always find it interesting when family members work with each other, or own a business together. How do they balance all that history with getting a job done day after day (with people who used to tease them in front of their friends or had the power to send them to their room).

In each issue of Franchise Times, we feature articles on family businesses, but this month we’ve got more than our fair share, including one that made our cover. It is the story of the Newcombs, how they started fast-casual chain McAlister’s, sold it and moved on to start a new restaurant chain after that.

Don Newcomb, the father of Chris and Neil, called Chris home from college to assist him with McAlister’s, and enlisted son Neil as a teenager. The two have honed their restaurant chops early in life, with their dad at the helm. Interestingly, Don was a practicing dentist when he started McAlister’s. Owning a restaurant had always been a dream. But it came with hard knocks.

“The price of getting it right was first getting it wrong…You need to be in the trenches and bloodied by your own decisions,” he told FT Editor-at-Large Nancy Weingartner when she interviewed him. Today, Chris runs their latest concept, Newk’s, and Neil has branched out on his own with Brixx Wood Fired Pizza. And Don is launching yet another restaurant brand where biscuits and barbeque are the stars. You’ll want to read all about their family’s restaurant journey.

Mary Jo Larson

Mary Jo Larson

Reach Mary Jo at 612-767-3208
or mlarson@franchisetimes.com

And, Freddy Simon is the 90-year-old, jovial father of the founders of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, brothers Randy and Bill Simon. Friend Scott Redler is also a co-founder. Learn how keeping dad busy as a spokesman of sorts has helped the chain’s branding become a success, as our staff writer Nicholas Upton relates.

And finally, wouldn’t every franchisor want to meet a family like this: Two brothers who successfully own Plato’s Closets locations have convinced four more family members to become franchisees. Chris and Tim Tresslar, the brothers, have even trained employees for other family members’ stores. “There’s a learning curve to Plato’s, and you can learn some of it with shortcuts, rather than the school of hard knocks,” Chris told FT Assistant Editor Tom Kaiser.

Family may be a theme this month, but we have other articles you’ll want to peruse, too: Franchising in 18-hour cities (I didn’t know what those were, either. Go read it.), automated restaurants, drive-by lawsuits, and more.

There may not be such a thing as fun for the whole family, but I think if you and your whole staff sat down and read this issue together, you’ll discover Franchise Times can be fun for everyone involved.

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