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    What Inspires Wienerschnitzel President J.R. Galardi

  • J.R. Galardi grew up in the family business and is ready to leave his own legacy.

    Wienerschnitzel / Andrea Domjan Photography
    J.R. Galardi's father, John, founded the brand.

    I started when I was 13, just working fries, cash register, janitorial work. I did that for summers on and off as a kid. When I got to college, I started interning as a franchise business consultant. My dad (Wienerschnitzel founder John Galardi) thought it would be important for me to get some other experience. I interned as an assistant hedge fund manager and realized I didn't want to be in investment banking.

    After college, I started working full time in the business. My draw was being a part of something my father started and was so proud of. Not a lot of people have the opportunities that I had, and I didn't ever want to be one to squander an opportunity. As I got older, I grew to love it. Everybody needs to eat. We provide something that everyone needs and it's kind of a game to figure out: There are so many options; how can we get people to choose our option?

    When I first got more involved in this business, the hot topic was: How do we get millennials? Well, I'm a millennial, so what would get my attention? I grew up in action sports and did competitive snowboarding. There's a specific way you have to market. I've seen a lot of brands come into these areas like skateboarding and motocross, and they've been shunned because they just throw their logo in your face. We're all there to get sales, but we're also going to serve people food for free, whether they come to our restaurant or not. We have an activation team that goes out to events like Supercross and WSA surf events, and we're doing some athlete sponsorships to get our brand out there in front of people.

    We approach business these days as a startup that has an almost-60-year base. We're not ignoring where the economy, technology, and people's minds are. People want to believe in the company that they're supporting, and we're huge advocates. Our whole mission statement is serving food to serve others, so the more money we can make by selling product, the more people we can help. It's establishing why you're doing what you're doing. Start with the inside and work your way out.


    What's your favorite menu item at Wienerschnitzel?

    I have two. I order them both every time I go: all-beef Chili Cheese Dog and a Corn Dog.

    What's your favorite type of food, excluding hot dogs?

    I probably eat sushi four times a week.

    Who has inspired you as a leader?

    The first was my father. He was like a superhero. He was the leader that I aspire to be. Outside of that, I look at people like Peyton Manning. People just look at him and trust that he's going to do the right thing, and that to me is huge. Without the people around you, without their trust and their respect, you're really nowhere.

    What are some of your interests outside of the business?

    I love snowboarding. I grew up doing it in Colorado. I skydive about once a week. I also love riding my mountain bike and surfing. Just being outside and being active is my biggest hobby. I have trouble sitting in an office.