Shortly after taking over her family’s Dairy Queen franchise operation, Karen Smith had a conversation with the company’s CFO. She admitted that she had a lot to learn about the business. “I had lived the DQ life, but hadn’t quite worked the DQ life, as I worked a number of different jobs over the years,” she says.
Smith found herself the owner of Smith Dairy Queens when her husband passed away in 2011. The business was originally started in 1947 by her father-in-law, Omar Smith. Omar Smith’s son Terry Smith graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in business in 1969. Terry Smith spent his entire life as part of the Texas Dairy Queen system, as he was born the same year that his father became a Dairy Queen franchisee. 

Having reached its 55-year anniversary in 2016, Mazzio’s LLC has much to celebrate. Begun with founder Ken Selby’s original Pizza Parlor in 1961, the Mazzio’s organization has a strong heritage that serves as the foundation of its current operations.
“The company became Ken’s Pizza Parlor in 1963 and Ken’s Pizza in the 1970s, with the Mazzio’s Italian Eatery brand coming about in 1979,” President and CEO Sheri Miksa says. “We also have another concept born in 2008, Oliveto Italian Bistro.”

The brother-and-sister team of Mark Peterson and Krystal Burge, co-founders of Desert de Oro Foods, can think of many reasons why their Taco Bell franchises have been so successful throughout the Southwest. In fact, they can think of more than 6,000 reasons – each and every one of their employees. “It’s the people-based culture that’s the most important part of our business,” Burge says.
With more than 200 restaurants, Desert de Oro Foods is the largest Taco Bell franchisee in Arizona, and operates in six other states. The company continues to expand across the Southwest. Most recently, the company acquired more than 35 locations in San Antonio and plans to open more in that market in the coming years. Peterson and Burge say the quality of the people they hire has gone a long way toward helping the company achieve its current level of success, which is remarkable considering how small the business was at its very beginning.

If you step through the door of any one of Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q restaurants, you’ll be greeted by the cook or wait staff who know you by name, all while you take in the scent of meat smoking on a wood-burning pit in the middle of the dining room. Soon that meat will be slathered in smoky barbecue sauce for you to enjoy.
“There are no secrets here,” President Josh Martino says. “Everything is out there for our customers to see, harkening back to exhibition cooking at its finest. We have an honesty and integrity to what we do. It’s old fashioned and requires a higher degree of difficulty for most cooking procedures; it’s paramount to what we’re about. Plus, we don’t cut anything until you order it.”

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