Multi-generation Businesses……

Rumors had been swirling around that the local family-owned restaurant that’s been in business for 50+ years was going to be sold. Those of us who are regulars have known for a while it was more or less on the market. As often happens, the third generation of the family doesn’t want to continue. It is a “legacy” restaurant and the intent has always been for someone to agree to maintain that aspect, so there was no plan to just sell out. The current deal is still in the “process stage” and we’ll see what actually comes about.

The point to the blog goes back to what I’ve written about the next generation in a small business. In writing for the community paper, I’ve now encountered one family business with the fourth generation, several with three and more with two. A friend and I were discussing this the other day and she quoted, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” I wasn’t familiar with that one and found this on-line: “from proverbial saying, early 20th century; meaning that wealth gained in one generation will be lost by the third.” In the situation I’m talking about, it isn’t so much the loss of wealth (although that certainly does happen), but rather the loss of interest. In some cases, it’s because interests simply diverge; in others, it’s having “grown up in the business” and deciding it isn’t a fit. That’s what happened on my father’s side. Even though Papaw had the farm in good shape with the amount of land he handled and the acreage he leased out, none of the four sons wanted to follow in his footsteps. On my mother’s side, it was the opposite. I don’t recall if my uncle stepped into the law office before Papaw became a judge or as soon as he did. As I explained, I was supposed to be the third generation and when I stayed longer in the Army than I initially planned, my cousin joined the office. His younger sister did too for a while, then she followed the line of being a judge. In talking with her oldest daughter, now a lawyer, married to a lawyer, whether or not they choose to take it over remains to be seen. Moving back to the really small town where she grew up might not be  in the works.

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