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Golden Corral Franchisee Dishes Out Helpings from the Heart


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As one of five kids of a single mom, Eric Holm didn’t really understand how poor he was growing up. He does, however, remember eating Thanksgiving dinner at a Salvation Army site, and knowing it was the only way he’d be eating that much food in one day.

Now a successful businessman and the franchise owner of Metro Corral Partners, with 31 Golden Corrals in the Florida/Georgia area, Holm has made a second career out of serving Thanksgiving meals. His Golden Corrals ring up sales of more than $1 million on that one day, while he’s at the Salvation Army helping serve 20,000 meals to his community. His upper-level managers, he said, help out the day before with the planning, but on Thursday, “their job is to get back in the restaurant and make money.”

Dishing up a Thanksgiving meal at a Salvation Army event isn’t always about feeding the poor. Holm remembers one year an elderly woman handed him a check for $100 and thanked him for the meal. “She didn’t have any place to go,” he explained.

Contrary to what most people think, it’s not a meal for homeless people, he pointed out, “It’s needy people, minimum-wage workers, someone who’s missed a paycheck” or someone who doesn’t have a family to join. And for the past 23 years, it’s been thousands of people who have dined in or taken home turkey dinners, along with the meals that are delivered to nursing homes and shut-ins. Some people eat at the long tables outfitted with white tablecloths and fresh flower centerpieces, and then get in the take-home line. An act that’s not frowned upon.

There are fewer sponsors today than in years past, Holm said, but with 1,100 volunteers and community businessmen such as himself, they get the job done. A faithful sponsor, Pepsi this year donated 24,000 bottles of water and soft drinks, he added.

Once everyone’s been fed, Holm goes home around 8 or 9 o’clock to have his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. “Our turkey dinner was a Mexican dinner for awhile, but we’re back to turkey this year,” he said.

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
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