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Starting at Bottom is Key for Family-Owned Franchises


The focus on the next generation of restaurant folk was everywhere at this year’s National Restaurant Association show May 18-21, including at four days of education sessions sponsored by Franchise Times. Most restaurants are family-owned, especially in their early years, so a seminar about operating a business with mom, pop and the rest of the relatives drew an interested crowd.

Paul Amell operates six Checkers/Rally’s restaurants in the Detroit area, and he likes the fact that he can wedge 1,500-square-foot stores in places where other restaurants don’t fit. He brought his son, Jason, into the business after Jason was laid off by Countrywide during the financial collapse. Paul told the audience starting Jason at the bottom was key, because Jason could then gain respect as he rose to general manager today.

On the show floor, high school students participating in the NRA’s ProStart program prepared dishes in front of discerning foodies. And on Sunday, students at Kendall College in Chicago prepared dishes at four stations using Vitamix blenders—which the Cleveland-based company donated to 150 culinary schools over the past year.

The lunch for media was the official kickoff of the program. “We’re hoping to create relationships that last for life,” a spokesperson said. Attendees gobbled up the goodies, including whitefish with Romesco sauce, made perfectly creamy with a Vitamix machine.

Vitamix also sponsored the World Culinary Showcase for the second year running, and they got their money’s worth. Rick Bayless, the famed Chicago chef who also appeared at The Show, said he travels with his Vitamix machine and even bought a special case for it.

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@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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