Like Father, Like Son: Four Tips for Bringing Your Kids into Your Restaurant Business

When it comes to operating a restaurant, a strong team can make or break your success. You want to make sure you can count on every one of your employees- and who better to count on than your kids?

As a father of four and a multi-unit owner of three Angry Crab Shack locations in Arizona, I know all about what it’s like to run a business with family. In fact, all of my sons work alongside me at my Happy Valley location!

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, my decision to bring my kids along for the ride and tips for other restaurant owners looking to bring their family on board. 

Set Boundaries

You may be hesitant to mix family life with business, but once you find the right balance, you’ll be so thankful you did. Be sure to set clear expectations from the beginning and treat them as you would any other employee.

The most important thing you can do is to hold them accountable. By bringing them into your business, you are putting your faith in them. Teach them as much as you can about their jobs and respectfully address their mistakes. 

Try not to bring work home with you. Before working together, make sure there is a clear line drawn between your familial and professional relationship. There are good and bad days in every job and you may not always see eye to eye; just be sure it doesn’t spill into your family relations.

Finally, while it’s important to show your support, avoid giving them any special treatment. This is unfair to others and can cause rifts in the workplace. After all, the best lesson you can teach your kids is that hard work pays off.

Respect Their Autonomy

Another thing you will learn when working with your kids is how important it is to let them make their own decisions. Although my sons love working at Angry Crab Shack, they are still deciding what career path they’d like to take.

One of the best things about the restaurant industry is that it is a great setting for younger people to acquire interpersonal and professional skills that will benefit them in whatever career they choose.

If they remain in the restaurant industry, I will be glad to have contributed to their passion by teaching them everything I’ve learned over the years. If they choose to go a different route, I will be equally as supportive.

Encourage Their Growth

One of the biggest lessons you’ll learn as a parent- especially once your kids become teenagers and young adults- is that self-discovery is important. At ages 17 through 26, my sons are still exploring all the different opportunities available to them.

If there is something new they want to learn, provide them with that opportunity. Be as flexible as possible and have open conversations about their career goals, obstacles and how you can help them. This is a great practice not only with your kids, but with all your employees. 

Sometimes, they may need reassurance when stepping out of their comfort zone- from their manager and their father. If they have any doubts, remember that it’s okay to be an encouraging parent. Just remember that all rewards must be earned and recognize all of your employees’ accomplishments equally.

Treasure Your Time Together

Just as you appreciate your family time at home, do the same at work. My favorite part of working with my sons is seeing them grow along the way. It is so rewarding that not only was I able to help raise them as kids, but I’m also able to have a positive impact on their long-term careers. 

As your kids get older, they will become more independent, and I am so thankful to get to spend more time with my sons in such a family-oriented environment like Angry Crab Shack. Just like our restaurant helps our guests create lasting family memories, it does the same for us. 

Finally, remember that working with your kids is a learning opportunity for you, too. Each of my sons has their own strengths and it’s important to let them shine. For everything I’ve taught them both at work and at home, they’ve taught me just as much.