John Birney Jr. of JBirney Financial and Johnny Lulgjuraj of Oceanside Beach Bar & Grill give their opinion on the perks and challenges of taking over the family business.
As every new generation passes through grade-school and into adulthood, in every small town across America, it is common to hear comments like: “After high school I’m getting out of this town,” or “There is more opportunity for success in a bigger city.”
As it turns out, many who leave eventually do come back to the small town they call home. John Birney Jr., of JBirney Financial, and Johnny Lulgjuraj, of Oceanside Beach Bar & Grill, shared their experiences with leaving Flagler County, to later coming back to take over the family business.
Although invested in vastly different businesses Birney Jr. and Lulgjuraj share many similar opinions on the advantages of staying local.
Birney Jr. goes off to college, to come back home again
Birney Jr. graduated from Flagler Palm Coast High School in 2006 and went on to enroll at the University of Central Florida to study psychology. Once graduated he made his way back home in search of a job. After delivering pizzas for a short stint, then a camp counselor for Flagler County Public Schools, his father, John Birney, pulled him aside and offered him a position amongst the family business at JBirney Financial.
“It was a real revelation, all while growing up I would tell people my dad was a stock broker,” Birney Jr. began. “Once I started at JBirney Financial I quickly realized the business entailed so much more. After studying phycology for so many years in college, my expertise serendipitously gave me a real advantage in my new position.”
“So far my time as an apprentice has been sort of like a drink from a firehose, but there is no better teacher and mentor than my father.”
JOHN BIRNEY JR.
After two years of experience with working side-by-side with his father, Birney Jr. can see the benefits of staying local.
“Each year gets a little bit easier,” Birney Jr. said. “Networking is much simpler when working in a city that is familiar to you. One familiar face you see at a function helps ease any anxiety, and that person will introduce you to 20 more people.”
Birney Jr. continues to excel at his position as an Investment Advisor Representative for JBirney Financial.
“So far my time as an apprentice has been sort of like a drink from a firehose, but there is no better teacher and mentor than my father,” Birney Jr. added.
The transition of Manny’s Pizza to Oceanside Beach Bar & Grill
Johnny Lulgjuraj, and his brother Tony, took over their parent’s pizzeria, previously known as Manny’s Pizza back in 2011.
“I remember by dad called up my brother and I, asking if we were interested in taking over the restaurant,” said Johnny Lulgjuraj co-owner of Oceanside Beach Bar & Grill.
At the time Johnny was pursuing a career in the music industry and Tony was doing well in real estate. The brothers declined the offer in pursuit of their separate careers.
After the economy took a dive the two reconsidered the option to take over their parent’s restaurant.
“Running the restaurant was definitely a dream of mine that I always thought of accomplishing later on in life, maybe even after retirement,” Johnny said. “I told my dad I could run the place from behind a computer, and I wouldn’t even have to be present, but boy was I wrong. We are here every day, and it makes an incredible difference.”
“People come here not only for the good food, but also the warm atmosphere from the staff. People get to know who we are as a person and what we are all about.”
Johnny credits much of Oceanside’s success to networking and socializing with the customers at the restaurant in Flagler Beach.
“Being in this small town word travels fast, and people judge their overall experience at a restaurant on more than just the food. My mom, her husband Alex, Tony and I are always walking around greeting the guests and getting feedback from returning customers. People come here not only for the good food, but also the warm atmosphere from the staff. People get to know who we are as a person and what we are all about.”
Since the transition of Manny’s to Oceanside the brothers have seen a 30% increase in annual sales every year. The Lulgjuraj’s are now focusing on small improvements and transitioning their restaurants meals to be made of all fresh and locally produced ingredients.