Doing It Your Way – Advice for the Next Gen of Family Business Leaders
Listen in as we talk with Danielle Mercuri*, CEO of DD Hospitality Group and owner of Rise n Shine Diner & Loded in Syracuse, NY about how she inherited Rise n Shine from someone who wasn’t “blood family”, how she continues the original owner's legacy and yet makes it her own, plus sage advice for the next generation of family business owners that cannot be overlooked.
My business has not only turned me into the person I am today, but it has also allowed me to change others' lives along the process. As the restaurant and hospitality industry continue to dig deeper roots in my life, I am realizing that my goals are to connect people over great food every day.
There’s a lot of history to be known in this place and we’ve come a long way in recent years, but here is the website version. All the way back in 2009, I lost my job and was unemployed for a year. I was going through one of the darkest times in my life; no money, three daughters to take care of and no idea of what was next. I prayed. I prayed for help. In that moment, and I do mean in that very moment, the phone rang…
My stepfather, Tommy Rozzano, called about a position at The Rise N Shine Diner! A longtime friend of Tommy’s, Peter Henessey, needed a waitress full time and I CLEARLY needed a job.
I clearly remember I couldn’t even find this diner! It was tucked behind a small Valvoline, with not much signage. I drove around a few times looking for the diner, and I almost gave up. Then, I saw this tiny, rundown building in the back. Pete, who I had never met, welcomed me right away and eventually became like an uncle to me. I was instantly drawn to helping Pete build his business and take care of our customers.
I saw the potential in this tiny, little, off-the-beaten path diner and knew my future was in FOOD! He had owned many restaurants in his day and had been a great friend to many; but little did we know this diner would be his last stop.
A few years down the road, Pete fell ill with leukemia and was told he didn’t have a lot of time to live. One day, he called me to his bedside at the hospital. Pete, having no family, felt that I was the right person for the job and asked me if I would take over the Diner. This was a great opportunity, and I was humbled, but I was also SCARED! I have never run my own business, but Pete reminded me that I was built for this!
Initially I was determined to help Pete while he was in the hospital in hopes he would beat the sickness and come home…but he didn’t. A couple months later he died. I lost a friend, mentor and teacher, but what I gained was the ability to preserve and take on this Restaurant.
In 2011 I began my new journey as a business owner. I couldn’t look back, only forward. My plan was to continue building this business, like Pete would have wanted. To RISE this business to its potential and SHINE!
My mission is to share great tasting food and to make it memorable. We understand that food is a universal language; it brings people together from all walks of life and makes memories, long-lasting ones.
You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook.
Visit: www.risenshinediner.com & www.lodedsyr.com
*not affiliated with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.
Michael Palumbos is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Family Wealth & Legacy, LLC is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. and its representatives do not provide legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a legal or tax advisor regarding any legal or tax information as it relates to your personal circ