GALLIPOLIS — Starting from the bottom and working up the ladder has always been the principle and backbone America was built upon — finding a passion or dream and building upon it to create something. In a time when it’s rare to make a career out of passion, the Schmidt family has done just that.
For Scott and Justin Schmidt, franchisees of the new Buffalo Wild Wings, 215 Upper River Road, their passion was born out of an unfortunate circumstance.
After being laid off from Osco Industries in Portsmouth, Scott found work as an assistant manager at Wendy’s in 1975. It was then that he realized his passion.
“Once I got in a Wendy’s and started working, I just loved it. I loved everything about Wendy’s, everything about Dave Thomas and what he stood for,” Scott said. “I just found my own passion, because I loved what I was doing. That was really the first job I’d had that I just really loved what I was doing — it wasn’t just a job to me. I remember, shortly after that, I stopped calling it a job, I had a career, and I just loved it.”
In 1988, Scott became and owner, and from there his business flourished. He formed Jags, Inc. and eventually Schmidt Family Restaurant Group, where he now owns 14 Wendy’s locations, two LaRosa’s Pizzerias — and now with the Gallipolis location — four Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.
“People always talk about different things that happen to them, and it was just one of those things where a negative turned into a positive. Actually, I was called back to work at Osco the year after I went to work at Wendy’s, and I could have went back and made more money, but I chose not to because I loved what I was doing,” Scott said. “I was fortunate and things fell into place, and I eventually became an owner in 1988 and I just loved to get up every day. I tell people I’m not going to retire because why retire when you’re doing something you love to do?”
Scott, who has two sons, passed his love of owning a business on to his two sons. His eldest son, Aaron, 35, owns a UPS franchise in Portsmouth. Justin, whom he calls “Juice,” 33, followed his father into the restaurant business upon receiving a degree in Food Service Management from Ohio University.
Justin, who said he earned the nickname “Juice” because he couldn’t pronounce Justin as a child, said that it was growing up in and around the restaurants owned by his father that really sparked his passion.
“It taught me hard work — my dad is still the hardest working person I know. It takes hard work to succeed in our business, so it just instilled great values in me,” Justin said.
With two sons, both following in their father’s business-ownership path, Scott couldn’t be more proud — though he says at one time in his life he wouldn’t have wished it upon either of them because of the hours, headaches and issues that come with the job. However, as with any trial, Scott said passion will always “get you over those hurdles.”
As previously stated, the Gallipolis location will make the Schmidt’s fourth Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. They own other locations in Portsmouth and Ironton, Ohio as well as Morehead, KY.
The decision to branch out into the franchise followed shortly after Justin’s graduation at Ohio University.
“I was that typical college kid on Saturday afternoons — I was going down to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the ball games, and I just found a love for Buffalo Wild Wings. I graduated in 2003 from OU and now to think that we’re franchisees of that company is a pretty unique story,” Justin said.
Their first Buffalo Wild Wings in Portsmouth opened in 2004. As they started a second restaurant, Justin, who had been managing one of the Wendy’s locations, began dedicating his time to the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise.
“At this point in time, I’m more of an administrator or advisor for him,” Scott said of his son. “I tend to oversee the Wendy’s more, and he tends to oversee the Buffalo Wild Wings and Larosa’s. He’s really taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, and I do nothing really but advise him when needed, which isn’t very often,” Scott said.
For Scott, the term “family” has been expanded to include the employees of his restaurants.
“I’m very proud of the longevity of the people who work for us and have been around a lot of years. I’m proud of the length of time they have worked for this company, the dedication,” said Scott. “It’s not [just] my company, I like to think that it’s all of our company.”
The new Buffalo Wild Wings location will add approximately 110 to 120 new members to the Schmidt family.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity that we have new folks coming in that we can teach great habits, like how we want the service to be, and how we want the restaurant to look. It’s just a matter of getting to know your people and what motivates them,” Justin said.
The process of building in Gallipolis has been about four to five years in the making. Both Scott and Justin said Gallipolis has been on their radar, but coming across the right opportunity, location and fit has been a work in progress.
“We’re just really excited to come into the community, to learn it, be a part of it and hopefully give back. We’re going to bring a lot of jobs, so I think it’s going to be a very positive thing for everyone involved,” Justin said.
The Schmidt’s are planning for a November 12th opening.