Benefits of Family Business

Food for Thought

My wife is in Trinidad and my kid is sleeping over at her friend’s place, so I walked out with the whole world of dinner choices, but alas, the places I wanted to go were too crowded. While meandering, in the back of my mind, I had a feeling that I might end up going to this tiny restaurant called Forever Taste. Something about this place draws me in. The setup is a typical Chinese takeout restaurant but the food is not.

When I walked in, three kids were sitting around a table playing a video game. The oldest one (around 10) noticed me, ran behind the counter, and asked me rather professionally, “Can I help you?” in native English. She was so short that I could barely see her face behind the tall counter. Normally, ordering at places like this is a bit of a challenge as I don’t speak Chinese, but thanks to her, it was easy. As soon as she took my order, she ran out of the restaurant. Apparently, her parents were somewhere outside. They came in together and assumed their respective positions, the mom to the front counter, and the dad to the kitchen. After relaying the order to her parents, the little girl went back to the table where her younger brothers were still playing the game.

Her parents are obviously immigrants; they didn’t speak English at all. So, the little girl played a valuable role in her family business. I’m sure their life is not easy running a small takeout restaurant, especially since they don’t serve typical takeout foods. (A woman came in and asked for fried chicken wings but they didn’t have them.) But, in some ways, I was envious of these kids. I would have loved to work with my parents like that. My dad worked six days a week for a big Japanese corporation. I rarely saw him and had only a vague idea of what he did.

Although I work from home, my kid only sees the back of my head; she has no clue what goes on in front of it. These days, many people dream of staying home and taking care of their kids full time, but I think the best possible setup is a family business. Having shared goals allows parents to impart all sorts of knowledge and insights that schools cannot. In modern family life, there aren’t many opportunities like that.