David Gronewoller has a sign on his Golden Corral restaurants that includes the saying “The Most Crippling Failure Disease ... Excuses.” David doesn’t allow himself or his employees to make excuses, and that’s why he’s grown his restaurant empire to 12 Golden Corral locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, with two more under contract.
David could have made excuses when he left college after two years and started his career as a dishwasher. “I was determined to be the best damn dishwasher in the world,” he says. He worked his way up to cook and then to manager, and eventually got a job working in Golden Corral’s corporate offices. Once Golden Corral started offering franchising opportunities, David knew he had to step up and buy a restaurant of his own – no excuses!
Like many Golden Corral owners, David sought partners to invest in his business; partners who are still with him today as he expands. David says the key to attract partners is to make sure you ask them to invest in a quality business that has staying power and helps franchisees every step of the way.
David says the Golden Corral system ensures that franchisees pick the right location which he says can “make or break a restaurant.” “Golden Corral gives you extensive help with real estate,” he says. “If you don’t have the right location, it doesn’t matter how good the food is. I came from operations, and even though I knew how to run a restaurant, I didn’t realize everything it takes to build one from scratch. Golden Corral guides you so you don’t make costly mistakes.” David says investors want to see that guidance from corporate, and if a restaurant works the first time, they’re more than willing to invest time and time again because the system is proven and successful.
David says the Golden Corral system also helps him find and keep great employees who remain loyal. “We believe more in the man than in the method,” says David. “We absolutely have the best people working in our restaurants and outside of them, nothing really matters.” He says without loyal employees who have stayed with him, he could not keep opening successful restaurants.
David says he was shocked when restaurant peers voted him North Carolina’s Restaurateur of the Year. “I was floored; absolutely floored,” he says. “I certainly didn’t do it alone. My staff runs the show!”
Married with five children and eight grandchildren, David doesn’t see retirement in his near future. He laughs and says “when I actually do retire I will probably be a dishwasher. This way I can do my work and think about anything I want to think about! I loved the work, and it’s what brought me to where I am today!”