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Cultural changes played role in Your Host closing

I would like to make note about the recent Viewpoints article by Remy Orffeo regarding Your Host restaurants.

As much as Ross Wesson and Alfred Durrenberger partnered together to start the business, Wesson was never able to see their creation expand to 40 locations because he was killed in a Texas plane crash in 1956. The company grew to 40 restaurants with the acquisition of the Continental Restaurant chain about 1966-67. Although Durrenberger died in 1968, the company functioned for many years without him due to the expertise of others who worked alongside him years earlier. Durrenberger knew “his” restaurants and “his” customers.

The article pointed out that there were difficult economic forces working against Your Host and that it failed to keep up with the times. That may not be inaccurate, however, cultural changes were at work, as well. Your Host was a union shop, paying union scale and union benefits. The “new” chains did not and do not. These “new” chains hired part-timers versus full-timers and paid few benefits.

Within the cultural change, restaurants moved from plaza locations to free-standing buildings or malls. Your Host did have a few free-standing locations and tried two mall locations. In addition, the “new” shift was to self-serve; paper wrappings and clean up after yourself. McDonald’s or Red Barn was not a fair comparison to Your Host; a more logical one would have been to Perkins or Denny’s.

No matter what small, family or local business has suffered a demise, it’s still painful to those who put their hearts and souls into a successful and vital business only to see it pass away.

Orffeo may write case studies on business decision making, yet there are still some of us who know much more about Your Host’s decisions than he. I worked for Your Host’s administrative offices for 13 years, and there were many, many good things about working for Your Host.

Sally Clements

Tonawanda