MANATEE -- Something about Beef O'Brady's is extra tasty to the Macri family.
Richard and Irene Macri, along with their sons Mike and Tim, operate three Beef's in Manatee County, creating a family franchise affair. Their community commitment and successful locations were enough for Beef O'Brady's corporate to award the family the Golden Shamrock Award during its conference in Orlando this month.
"It was an awesome feeling to get recognition for what we do day in and day out," Tim Macri said.
The family operates the Beef's at 4286 53rd Ave. E., 1795 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., and 8913 U.S. 301 N. in Parrish.
"We try to instill that our restaurants should be treated like our staff's own personal home," Tim Macri said. "We want those people to feel comfortable, feel
treated as if they were visiting our staff members' homes."
The Golden Shamrock is one of the company's top two annual awards aside from a CEO award occasionally handed out for special recognition. The award is given to a franchise owner who represents the spirit of the company being a positive force and being in the stores as full-time owners, said Chris Elliott, chief executive officer of Family Sports Concepts, which runs Beef O'Brady's.
"They're the type of people you love to work with. They're not looking for someone else to blame. They're just looking for solutions -- they're problem solvers," Elliott said. "Their energy and enthusiasm for the brand is infectious."
The awards are voted on by the franchise consultants in the field as well as marketing staff in the corporate office who work closely with franchise owners, Elliott said.
Two of the family's locations are among the company's top 15 most profitable. The other is in the top 30, he said.
"They went through some tough times as you always do as an entrepreneur, but they figured it out, they became patient and went from one location to three locations," he said. "They're very successful Beef O'Brady's. They've shown constant sales growth year-over-year and represent the brand emphatically."
The Macri family started with Beef's 20 years ago on 34th Street West before moving to Cortez Road. That location is currently owned by Patrick and Kyle Goneau.
Beef's was founded in 1985 and opened its first restaurant in Brandon before becoming a national restaurant chain. Richard Macri became part of the company's inaugural franchise advisory committee before son Tim took the reins.
As part of the committee, Tim said he expects that the Lockwood Ridge location will become a test restaurant for new items Beef's is considering offering nationally. That change is expected to happen in coming months, he said, and represents a bigger shift than Beef's has experienced. The company's menu nearly tripled in size over the last decade, he said.
"Beef's started out as a small chicken wing and burger place, and they've developed the menu to have pizza, different plated entrees and moved away from basket service toward plate service," Tim Macri said.
The family atmosphere at the Manatee County Beef's extends to community involvement . Beef's are known for sponsoring Little League and youth soccer teams, and it's one of the aspects the Macri family embraces, as well as being involved with local churches.
The younger Macris got their feet wet in the hospitality industry with stints with Olive Garden before moving on to other restaurants and eventually coming home. "I know for me the option of owning my own place and being part of that side of things was really intriguing and got me involved better," he said. "Mike was in banking for a little bit and the corporate world wasn't conducive to family life. This gave us a little more flexibility to spend time with family."
Elliott said the family's strongest attribute is understanding the restaurant is a hands-on operation. "For the Beef O'Brady's model, they are the perfect franchise owner profile," he said.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.