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Gives New Meaning to ‘May I Take Your Orders?’


This is a typical dinner conversation between my husband and me:

Me: “I’m hungry, let’s go out to dinner.”
Him, sighing: “You want to eat again?”
Me, feeling a bit piggish for wanting to eat three times in one day: “How about Axels?”
Him: “Did I like the walleye sandwich there?”
Me: “You don’t like the walleye sandwich anywhere.”
Him: “Let’s go someplace else.”
Me: “How about Morton’s?”
Him: “Too expensive.”
Me: “McDonald’s?”
Him: “They don’t serve beer.”
Me: “How about going home and I’ll cook?”
Him: “Nah, I don’t like the food there.”
Me: “How about … ”
Him, interrupting: “We just went there; I didn’t think the food was that great.”
Me: “Where do you want to go?”
Him, indignantly: “I always have to pick the restaurant.”

We end up at a restaurant where the Twins game is viewable from every seat in the house. I actually don’t mind—I like sitting at bars talking to the bartender or the patrons on either side of us. What I do mind is when my husband tells people with a whiff of martyrdom that I can never make up mind about where I want to eat.

Why am I telling you this? Because as an editor of a franchise publication, I go out to dinner for a living. It’s in my job description—yes, I had to add it, but it’s in there now.

I will go out of my way when I attend franchise events to eat in the restaurants I write or read about. During the last IFE in Washington, D.C., I snuck over to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Even when I visit relatives, I try to go to franchises: Quaker Steak & Lube in Pennsylvania,  Marco’s Pizza in Cleveland, and Emerald City Smoothie in Pullman, Washington. Now that my older daughter has moved to Maine, I have a whole new world of franchises opening up to me. The franchise I’m looking for, however, is one that makes a killer walleye sandwich that goes well with baseball.  Because I want to pick the restaurant.

What were his parents thinking?

As I’ve mentioned before, naming a child is a huge responsibility. For instance, one would never name a plain girl with thin hair Farrah or a musically challenged child The Beatles. So why would Mr. and Mrs. Schnall name their infant son Brian?


In their defense the couple probably had no idea their child would grow up to be a franchise attorney and join Faegre & Benson, where master-marketer/legal-giant Brian Schnell already had made a name for himself. Unless they were active in franchising or had a daughter who played basketball, they probably had never heard of Brian Schnell.

When I first spotted “Brian Schnall” and “Brian Schnell” listed in the Faegre & Benson attendee list for the law firm’s summit back in August, I thought it was Schnell’s way of getting his name in the directory twice. But then I met Brian Schnall, who works in the firm’s Denver office and is constantly ribbed about his name

To his credit, Schnall takes the kidding in stride—such as his colleagues’ suggestion when he got married recently that he take his wife’s last name—but he draws the line at being called “Skippy.” For the most part, he’s getting used to the double-takes he receives when people read his name tag at industry events. He’s still young, however; he has years to knock the “el” out of Schnell’s name.

A waist is a terrible thing to mind

Another thing I’ve mentioned several times is that while I respect entrepreneurs immensely, I’ve never seen myself joining their ranks. I’m not someone who can sacrifice easily—I see the purse, I buy the purse, or the book or whatever has caught my eye. Self-control isn’t my strong suit. So imagine my surprise when I found myself arriving home at 7 p.m. and lacing up my running shoes to hit the pavement. Or donning a helmet to get in as many miles on my bike as I could before nightfall. (I’m not a morning person.)

Executive Editor
Nancy can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com

By the time you read this I will have finished an Iron Girl duathlon—run two miles, bike 22 miles, run two miles—or died trying. I came to exercise late in life, about the same time I noticed I was wearing a flesh-colored inner tube and I wasn’t at the beach. I’ve never run and years ago I gave up cycling after small children on bikes with training wheels passed me on the trail. At the time I blamed Denver’s thin air, but I found the air thin in Minnesota, too.

I don’t love running and never will. But I do love it when it’s over—perhaps it’s like childbirth in that way. The result is better than the process. Or, maybe it’s like building a business. You sacrifice sleep, take time away from your family and spend money you don’t have (have you priced flowered bike helmets or GPS/heart-rate monitors lately?) and you desperately hope your dream has some validity. That if you build it someone will come—that you’ll cross the finish line before the clean-up crew removes the last barrier.

I’ve discovered my neighborhood is beautiful right before nightfall. The sky is a watercolor painting and the lakes shimmer, because you can’t see that mossy blanket in the waning light. Friendly people are out walking their dogs, Rollerblading, biking, even running. And although the serious bikers in their tight shorts pass me by like I’m standing still, I don’t care. I’m a contender. So what if I’m a pretend-entrepreneur for the summer? I feel rich right now. I also feel your pain, my brothers and sisters in entrepreneurship. And, it’s right above the bike seat—just where yours is.

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