People often ask me if I was "forced" to come into the family business or if I ever felt "obligated" to take over the restaurants. My response is the same to everyone..."No". My parents never pressured me to come into the family business or tried to convince or bribe me to do it. Coming into the family business was 100% my choice.
I feel fortunate to be able to say that my parents never pressured me to join the family business because I know that there are many people out there that aren't given a choice...Some aren't even able to further their education or follow a dream because they are forced by their parents to do something "that they were born to do". In some respects, I feel like I was born to run the family business at some point in my life. I am an only child and really the only person of my generation in my family that came into business after college. I graduated from a university with a degree in Business Administration. I had the opportunity to work overseas for a very well-established worldwide brand, and explore other employment options before coming "home". Thing is, I always felt comfortable behind the counter, taking care of customers and becoming a Miracle Mile staff member at a very early age.
I have vivid memories of taking a bottle of Windex and paper towel and cleaning the dessert and deli cases at our Chris-Town location. Sitting on a pickle bucket behind the counter and doing homework while my mom finished a catering order late in the afternoon was also an often occurrence for me. While I thought this was considered "normal", I learned later in life that it obviously was not. However, that was my upbringing and I was always around the family business because my parents were always around the family business...because of their hard work and dedication, Miracle Mile is still around today!
When my grandfather (my mother's father and the founder of Miracle Mile) was at the age that most people are looking to retire, it was my parents who stepped up and took the family business to another level! They worked thousands of early mornings and late nights, which was why I was at the Chris-Town location often growing up. But it was fun for me, as a kid, having a really cool business as a fun "playground" of sorts and having an extended family of great employees that accepted and loved me as their own.
(The photo above is the Miracle Mile location at Chris-Town Mall circa 1980!)
I think having that experience as a child, constantly being around the family business, getting to know our regular customers at an early age, standing next to my Aunt Maria while serving coffee behind the counter on Saturday mornings (while standing on a milk crate to see over the counter), are all a result of why I love the business that I chose as my career. Now having children of my own, I know how hard it must have been for my parents to run a successful business while also attempting to establish a strong family foundation as well.
The restaurant business is by far one of the toughest businesses out there, and finding that balance between work and family is quite difficult. I have an incredibly supportive wife (that isn't a part of the business now because she has the toughest job in the world in taking care of our two children) that knows how hard I strive to make our family business successful everyday. Creating the time for the business and making the time for family I am learning is just as important. I know that my parents didn't have much of a choice other than to bring me back to work with them after picking me up from school, but them doing that gave me an appreciation at a very early age of what they did on a daily basis and how hard they worked.
I wouldn't recommend family members to start a new business together because it takes a special family to do so. I am not saying that my family is perfect by any means because we have our daily battles on business decisions as well. However, without a true appreciation and definition of what each person's role is, problems can arise very quickly on several different spectrums. (A word from the wise: Remember that the family relationship is always more important than the business relationship between family members.) My grandfather told me something at an early age because people were constantly telling him how he should change the business and it drove him nuts. He said, "Josh, ANYONE who eats thinks that they can run a restaurant!" I didn't really understand what he meant until I came into the business and was running our Arrowhead location. Some people wish to express their opinions of how you should operate things or change menu items which is all fine. Let them say their peace. However, it is what YOU truly believe and what your heart tells you that really matters.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to now operate the family business and I hope that I can take it to another level in the near future. I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family and staff that knows how hard it is to run a business and are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the business is successful. As I mentioned earlier, I was never forced to come into this business, but me growing up in it and around it as often as I was, gave me the comfort and knowledge at any early age to believe that I could do it if I wanted to. Thanks Mom and Dad for always being there for me and letting me make this decision to make the business my own. And Thank You Desi for always being there for me (and our family) and supporting me when I need it most!