Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Issue IV, 2016 - Page 16

D OM I N A T O R S taurant management. After two years of working in a restaurant, he was ready to open his own. “I knew little to nothing about franchising, but I put a business plan together and, with no equity, walked into a bank. You can just imagine the looks I got. It was a nice, short meeting,” he says. Family friend Mickey Schulman, whose daughter had married Penn Station founder and CEO Jeff Osterfeld, was opening a Penn Station restaurant in Cincinnati and his manager “flaked.” He sold Chinsky the store, backing him financially just as a bank would. It was the seventh store in the new system. “Mickey, who eventually became my partner, and his wife Phyllis taught me everything I needed to know—what taxes to pay, when they were due, what forms to use. I knew the restaurant side and what people wanted, but I had no clue on the business side. I had to learn it,” says Chinsky. “I was very fortunate. I was given a great opportunity, but I knew I had to make it work, make it a success. I’m a self-starter, and my dream was to hit $100,000 by age 30. I did that, and my next goal was seven figures, and so on. I got my work ethic from my dad, who never owned his own business. My ambition came from seeing how hard he worked for someone else.” In 1993, Chinsky sold his Cincinnati stores and moved to Indianapolis at Os- “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” terfeld’s request to take over the corporate store there. He soon became owner of that store and area rep for the region. When he was ready to open a second store, Schulman again co-signed. When Penn Station decided to do multi-unit agreements, Chinsky and Schulman partnered on a 12-unit deal. In 2010, he bought out his partner and mentor. In 2002, when Penn Station began its Franchisee of the Year awards, the first went to Chinsky. In addition, he’s served 10 years as president of the brand’s Franchise Advisory Committee, and earlier this year spent time in Washington, D.C., meeting with senators and representatives about franchising and small-business issues. “I’ve become more interested in politics as I see how it affects our businesses,” he says. He and his restaurants are also active in the community. He served on the board of directors for the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association, and he continues to partner on promotions with the Indianapolis Colts. After he opens his 18th store in 2017, Chinsky plans to focus on improving all the stores and continuing to grow sales. While he still enjoys getting into the kitchen and working alongside his employees every chance he gets, he doesn’t have to do that any more unless he wants to. “I’d like to travel more with my family, and that may be possible because I have two great operations directors, both of whom have been with me for about 20 years,” he says. “I also have multiple GMs who have been with me for 10 to 15 years, so we have a great team. We work hard and play hard.” His most beloved and stalwart partner is his wife Linda. “She’s a great partner,” he says.“I was in business before I met her and she actually moved with me, gave up her company-car job, and moved in with me without a ring. I feel blessed to have her.” Chinsky remains committed to Penn Station. “From day one, when I got involved, I was sold on the overall simplicity of the menu. It’s all about freshness—everything is made daily fresh on the grill. I’m a true believer in the food. That’s why I tell people I’m training and developing to make it the way it’s supposed to be made—follow the ops manual,” he says. “It comes d own to customer service. If customers have a memorable experience, the food will be memorable.” PERSONAL First job: I worked in a Jewish deli a cousin owned. Formative influences/events: My mentor is my old business partner, Mickey Schulman. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do this because he backed me and believed in me to get started. Key accomplishments: From a personal standpoint, marrying the right person and having two kids. From a business perspective, owning my own business. Biggest current challenge: Staffing. Next big goal: To travel more and open our next store. What’s your passion in business? I like watching other people grow. I have such longevity with many of my managers that I’ve been able to watch them and their families grow up. My passion is helping them build their careers. How do you balance life and work? I don’t think I had the balance at the beginning, especially with my first 10 stores. As I built my support system, one of our big management beliefs became to take care of each other and put families first. We learned to find that balance together. First turning point in your career: My mom suggested we look at Penn Station when they started franchising. Guilty pleasure: Food. Best business decision: After 10 years in the business, I started building a support system in 2000 by hiring my first operations director and a part-time accountant. Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption.” Hardest lesson learned: Life is short and you have to enjoy it. Work week: Changes weekly, but averages 50 to 60 hours per week—and I still love it. You love it or you hate it with restaurants. It’s not for everyone. Exercise/workout: I play hockey twice a week and go to the gym twice a week. 14 Best advice you ever got: If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want. Favorite book: Anything by Zig Ziglar. What do most people not know about you? Not much. I’m a pretty open book. Pet peeve: People without a good work ethic. What did you want to be when you grew up? A police officer. Last vacation: I spent time in Central Oregon last summer with my family. Person I’d most like to have lunch with: My wife. MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE IS S UE IV, 2016 muf4_profile_chinsky(12,14,16).indd 14 10/6/16 4:56 PM