::this post ID is 276::::in categories of ..Features....Food Services..::

Food, friends and franchising at Ricky’s All Day Grill

crop1By Breeana Bitz and Laura Littlechilds
The restaurant business has a way of getting into your blood. Even if you try other things, odds are you’ll always get drawn back in.

That’s certainly the way it was for us. Even though we initially pursued different career paths, as children of long-time restaurateurs and franchisees, carrying on the family tradition with our own Ricky’s All Day Grill was a natural progression, even at the young age of 22.

I was born in Meadow Lake, Sask., but only lived there for about a year before my family moved to Humboldt, about 400 km to the southeast. My father was employed as a conservation officer, while Mom primarily worked as a stay-at-home parent, eventually looking for something she wanted to pursue professionally. In time, she got a job at a local Smitty’s Restaurant, working her way up the ranks, all the way to general manager. When the opportunity came up, she and Dad decided to enter the world of franchising by buying a Smitty’s location in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Franchising was quite a big gamble for my parents. They didn’t have a lot of money at the time, or any real experience running a business on their own. Even so, they decided it was an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up. So, when I was about nine years old, we made the move, with my parents taking over a Smitty’s on the Trans-Canada Highway.

A life in food service
I spent a lot of time in the restaurant growing up, especially in those early years, when my parents were spending so much of their time there. Of course, my brothers and I would also pitch in when needed. We’d all be in the back washing dishes or helping out wherever we could. My parents ran the Moose Jaw location successfully until about a year before I graduated from high school, when they decided to move up to Prince Albert, where they planned to build a brand new Smitty’s.

The restaurant was being built during my last year of high school and was open by the time I graduated. Once again, my family all helped out; in fact, both of my brothers managed the restaurant at one time. I also made the move, living in Prince Albert for the summer before my first year of university. It was during that time that I met Breeana through a mutual group of friends.

I was born in Kindersley, Sask., a small town about two hours west of Saskatoon. My parents operated a restaurant in Kindersley, and eventually bought into the Humpty’s Restaurant franchise; they later moved to Prince Albert where they built a new Humpty’s Restaurant.

As young children, my older sister, older brother and I spent a lot of time at the Kindersley restaurant. We would always be asking for things to do to help out. I would clean windows, sweep the carpets, do dishes, help cut vegetables in the back—basically anything my parents said—to keep me busy while I was there. When we moved to Prince Albert, just as I was starting ninth grade and the new restaurant was opening, I began working as a server. I continued to work there all through my high school years.

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