Nothing cheesy here: We shell out the good stuff
When I was in college back in the day, a huge splurge for my dorm roommate and me was to order Domino’s. We didn’t have extra money, and that purchase would empty our already-thin wallets. What I’m trying to say is, she and I didn’t have the pizza deliverer on speed dial. First, there was no speed dial back then, and second, the times we called them were few and far between.
But sometimes, I was willing to go further than her, at least in the instances where I would part with a dollar. Together in the grocery store aisle perusing the Kraft Mac & Cheese, she looked at me askance—while she picked up the blue box, I grabbed the Velveeta & Shells. As you may know, one has cheese powder, and one has squeezable, creamy fake cheese. She thought I was squandering cash, but I guess I just had more refined tastes. Even though both were cheese wannabes, Velveeta & Shells oozed a gloppy, gooey goodness. As my husband teases me when I spend money on something he deems unnecessary, “Who are you, Mrs. Rockefeller?” Yes. Yes, I am.
I was reminded of this when I read FT staffer Tom Kaiser’s cover story that included an interview with Lorraine Platman, a veteran restaurant operator, who with husband Gary Sussman is opening Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac & Cheez. With flavors like Cubano Mac and Detroit Coney Dog Mac, I could never have dreamed of such a thing when I was a co-ed. Fast-casual restaurants like Sweet Lorraine’s are catering to more sophisticated tastes, especially those of the millennials. They crave more than I did way back when.
It’s part of a larger story Tom penned about Detroit, and how companies, including franchises, haven’t dismissed the Motor City just because it fell on hard times. Certainly, it’s not out of the woods yet, but Platman and Sussman are placing bets that its comeback is real. Michael Delrahim, an attorney and Detroit-based Giordano’s franchisee, is, too: “It’s all happening in Detroit,” he says, and for those who haven’t looked at the gritty city in a while, he encourages them to come back and see what’s happening. I know I learned something: Often when there’s more to fight for, innovation bubbles to the top.
Speaking of college, while a lot of kids were burning the midnight oil at the library (that was pretty much my story), brothers Steve and Jason Parker skipped class and went straight to the school of hard knocks—in business, that is. According to FT Editor-in- Chief Beth Ewen’s story in this month’s issue, the siblings started a dog-walking company at ages 14 and 12; today, at ages 31 and 29, respectively, they’ve grown their love for pups into a luxury pet boarding franchise, K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel. When in their early 20s the naysayers said they couldn’t franchise their brand, the duo proved them wrong. Today, the naysayers are fewer and the followers growing: A PE firm has made an investment to help the company grow. The race is on to open more locations before their competitors get there. Quick quiz after you read their story: Who graced the poster on their bedroom wall growing up? No. Not Megan Fox or Beyonce. You’ll see.
Most of our entrepreneurs grew up pursuing their passion, because you have to be passionate if you are going to be successful. Like the Parkers, they start with nothing and build it into, well, something. Sadly, the opposite can be true. Don’t miss contributing writer Julie Bennett’s saga of two more brothers who, growing up with a founder, didn’t learn the lessons well, it seemed. Twists (lawsuits) and turns (bankruptcies) have them fighting to save their business. Who’s to blame? Go ahead, dig in.
Top brow stuff here, folks. Something even the real Mrs. Rockefeller would read, and I should know.