Lady in Waiting

Making the leap from employee to entrepreneur.
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This story appears in the December 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

While a waitress becoming a restaurateur might sound like a fairytale, that's actually the most common way Beef 'O' Brady's franchises are started. Tamara Berry, 42, is one such franchisee--she knows Beef 'O' Brady's like the back of her hand, having waited tables there for over 15 years.

Berry's transition was unusual, coming after her then-fiancé, now-husband, Travis, got into an accident. Berry moved into his home to take care of him and commuted 80 miles to Beef 'O' Brady's, working double shifts to cover their financial needs. Eventually, they realized they needed more income. Berry decided to go with what she knew and opened her own Beef 'O' Brady's. After refinancing her house and naming her mother-in-law and father-in-law as partners, Berry opened for business in Inverness, Florida, in October 2006.

Berry had so much energy and perseverance, there was no doubt she would succeed at the helm of her own Beef 'O' Brady's location, especially with her family by her side. To cut initial costs, Berry and her in-laws did the building and painting without the help of a contractor. Now her 18-year-old daughter, 20-year-old son and 13-year-old stepson also lend a helping hand by bussing and waiting tables.

Running a business was always in the back of Berry's mind. After choosing to open a Beef 'O' Brady's rather than attend nursing school, she knew she'd made the right decision. Even with the longer hours and management responsibilities, Berry still finds time to jump in and wait tables as well. "There are days when I get up and say, 'Lord, why did I do this?'" she admits. "But it's great, because I love people."

Edition: July 2017

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