Entrepreneur Makes A Business Out Of School Lunch

Brian Busick is the founder and president of School House Grill, a company that delivers lunch to a variety of private schools. Before that, though, he dabbled in a few other businesses reports Thomas Heath from The Washington Post.

Around 2004, he contacted Jerry’s Subs & Pizza, a Gaithersburg-based chain of restaurants, and eventually bought four stores grossing around $2 million a year total. He spent more than $1 million to acquire the four franchises — half borrowed and half his own money. They threw off a profit that paid him $115,000 a year, but he worked his tail off seven days a week to get it.

“It was an incredible amount of work . . . 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day,” he said. “It’s like buying a boat. The happiest days are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.”

But it created a valuable opportunity. He got a call in early 2005 from a private elementary school in Ashburn asking if his restaurant could provide the school with 100 sub sandwiches one day a week.

“I said sure.”

As the menu expanded to pasta and lasagna, Busick got Sysco Corp., which supplied the food to his Jerry’s restaurants, to provide the food for his school menus as well.

The lunches were a hit; when the school asked if he could boost the number of lunches to three days a week, Busick’s business started to roll.

“I could see the market on this,” he said. “And I am motivated to do this because I am taking a shellacking on some of my Jerry’s [stores]. And I realized that there is fairly good margins in the school lunch business.”

Photo by jmurawski

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