Stay In Touch

In The Loop

How did they do it? Rick says the most important action the cousins took during this difficult process was keeping senior members of the family informed of the changes that were taking place and why--because in the restaurant business, the changes were particularly obvious. "When their friends came up to them and asked why rosé wine was no longer on the table," says Rick, "they had to answer honestly that rosé wine wasn't what most people drank anymore."

One of the hardest changes for Tod and Anthony Ghio (Grandma Ghio's sons, now in their 70s) to accept, says Jon Pflueger, executive chef at one of the restaurants and the husband of Grandma Ghio's great-granddaughter, Jody, was the elimination of some of the 30-year-old menu's key items. "But after eating here four or five times, Tod has become one of my biggest fans," Pflueger says. "I think he sees how the menu changes have been good for the dining room."

One reason the younger generation of Ghios hasn't alienated its elders is that it recognizes and appreciates the service, contributions and stewardship the older generation has provided the business and the family. "Ultimately, that's the definition of respect," says Tom Hubler, a family business consultant in Minneapolis.

Respect for elders comes easiest when the feeling is mutual, of course. "I know my father respects me and is thrilled I'm taking over the reins," says Lisa Wexler of Elaine Construction Co., a Newton, Massachusetts, company started by her grandfather and currently headed by her father, Kenneth. So it's no surprise that Wexler doesn't want her father to retire, which he says he's ready for. "I wind up begging him to stay a little longer," Wexler says of her dad. "I love working with him. Sure my `boss' can be frustrating, but he's someone I look up to and can learn from."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Stay In Touch.

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