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Full Circle

Old habits die hard, it seems.

At least that's true for Pizza Hut Inc. founder Frank Carney and Boston Chicken Inc. founder George A. Naddaff. The entrepreneurs left their ventures years ago to pursue other interests--but now they're back, competing in the same industries they abandoned and against the companies they started.

Carney, who left Pizza Hut in 1980, took his pizza know-how to Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John's International Inc., buying his first franchise in Houston in 1994. He now owns 48 restaurants in Missouri, Kansas and Texas and hopes to open 20 more in those areas within the year.

And Naddaff? The 67-year-old entrepreneur acquired grilled chicken franchise Ranch 1 last year.

For Carney, 59, becoming a Papa John's franchisee was a matter of taste--the company serves up pizzas made with high-quality ingredients. Last year, sales at Papa John's company-owned restaurants grew nearly 12 percent, twice the industry average. Meanwhile, Naddaff hopes Ranch 1's healthy chicken-and-pasta menu will redefine fast food. He expects to double last year's sales of $12 million.

Despite competition from their former companies, the restaurateurs remain confident. Says Naddaff, who plans to add 50 company-owned units in the next few years to Ranch 1's tally of 22, "I've had incredible success in this field. I understand the business."

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Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Full Circle.

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