Family Owned Business

Making A Family Owned Business Work

Making a Family Owned Business Work: Lessons from Two Family Owned Neighborhood Favorite Restaurants — Uncle Sal’s and The Side Door

It’s no secret that owning a business can be all-consuming — especially family owned businesses. Even if not every family member is directly involved in the day-to-day operations, they are affected by the business in some way. The goal is to set the boundaries between families and business and as much as possible keep them from getting blurry.

So how does a family owned business keep those boundaries clear on several occasions? Following the rules below has helped us — Uncle Sal’s and The Side Door:


Establish clearly defined roles

If your family is anything like ours, each family member will naturally fall into a role that they are a great fit for. For us, each one of our family members has a very distinct position and a set of responsibilities. This allows for all of our other employees know exactly who to turn to in need. Know which family member’s responsibilities builds strong relationships with our staff; this allows the staff to understand what roles we play in the business.

Treat employees like you do your family and treat the working family members like employees; no exceptions

In order to create a successful environment where everyone feels valued for their contributions, and most importantly, accountable for their responsibilities, equal treatment is a must.

Create win-win situations

In every business, life gets in the way, and at our restaurants we take great measures to let our employees take care of what is most important to them and support them with their challenges. By creating a supportive, caring environment, all of our employees reciprocate the care right back at our customers.

We often get asked how we manage to have everyone on staff — family or not — show the same level of engagement with our business. The answer is simple. By caring about our employees the same way we do about our family members, we instill in them a deep care for the business as well. In fact, they treat the business like a member of their own family, too.

In our next column we’ll talk about the importance of getting everyone in the family on the same page. Our restaurants had just completed a major “facelift,” and we have certainly walked away with many lessons about what to do and what to avoid. Whether you are a family restaurant — or a family owned business of any kind — the one thing you cannot have is too many cooks in the kitchen!

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About Robert Molinari

Robert is the owner of Uncle Sal’s Restaurant & Bar, a family owned and operated restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz., which provides classic Italian cuisine. The guiding hands that The Molinari Family brings to Uncle Sal's Italian Restaurant is a combined 40 years of experience as hospitality professionals to the classic work of catering. Award-winning Chef James Molinari's kitchen prepares appetizers, entrees and desserts that have made this eatery known to locals as well as visitors to the Valley of the Sun as, "a piece of Italy found right here in Scottsdale." Uncle Sal’s has received numerous accolades and awards including Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the prestigious DiRōNA Award. For locations, menus, catering and other information, please visit