Fathers, children share stories of working together in restaurant business

Everybody loves dear old Dad — but can you get too much of him? No? What if you share a 10-by-10 office with him?


"It's more like a closet," said Anna Blair, who along with her sister, Katherine Riederer, has joined her father, John Vergos, at the Rendezvous.


Even still, like everyone interviewed for this story, the pros of working for Dad in the family restaurant business outweigh the cons by far — and Dad feels the same way.


"I can truly say that these last 10 years, working with my kids, have been the most rewarding of my career," said Dimitri Taras, the patriarch of the clan that runs Jim's Place Grille.


Alex and Michelle Pao, children of Mosa owner Eddie Pao, are energized by him; Eric Vernon at the Bar-B-Q Shop says working with father Frank has created a better relationship between them, and Jonathan and Pepe Magallanes at Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana are a true team.


Here are their stories.


The Vernons


Eric Vernon was barely more than a toddler at 4, but he remembers when his parents purchased what would become the Bar-B-Q Shop.


"We'd go get barbecue at Brady and Lil's all the time, and I remember sitting on my daddy's knee when Mr. Brady said he was thinking about retiring, thinking about selling the place. My dad said, 'If you really mean it, let me know,'" Eric said.


"A few weeks later, we were back in there, and Mr. Brady said, 'I think I like you. Let me mentor you, and let's do this.' So he trained them for a year, and then we bought the business. I'll never forget that, either. Mr. Brady brought out the biggest, whitest Bible I've ever seen and said, 'You can't run it without this.'"


He grew up in the business but left to go to school.


"I knew he'd be back, but first he had to have his education," Frank said. "So he went off to the University of Memphis, and then he went back to get his master's."


Eric was not at all sure he was going back:


"I was like, I'm going to be a businessman. I'm going to work from 9 to 5 and have weekends off."


But he told his dad he'd try it for one year. During that time, Frank and Eric were baptized together.


"It changed so much," Eric said. "I think about Mr. Brady and that big Bible every day. Our business has been better, our relationship has been better, everything has been better since then."


Frank is still resistant to change at times.


"(Eric) has his way he wants to do things, but I like it my way because the way I see it, if it's not broke, don't fix it," Frank said. "But most everything we do, we manage to work it out."


And that, said Eric, 41, is the best thing about working with his father.


"Learning how to talk and work things out is something that fathers and sons have to do," he said. "With my dad, we didn't just learn how to talk to each other like men in our personal relationship, but also because of our business. I am blessed that I've had him and that I can go talk to him whenever I need him."


See full article at The Commercial Appeal.