Family affair

It’s noon on a Tuesday.

Terry Jabbour Denton sits in a booth at her family’s bar and grill, The Double Olive, intently reviewing orders for new inventory. Her cell phone rings. She answers, finishes a brief conversation and immediately begins calling numbers from a list of wait staff, ensuring a full staff for the busy night ahead.

The Double Olive opened in the fall of 1998 on Weathervane Lane in Akron. The bar specializes in martinis, and the kitchen offers a wide range of delicacies, from filets to Lebanese fare. On average, the bar employs 25 people, and has expanded to include an outdoor patio bar.

Denton opened the bar with her brother, Nage Jabbour, and mother, Hoda Jabbour. The Jabbour family has a strong history of entrepreneurship — Denton’s parents opened Jabbour’s Clothing in 1975. They grew the business to three stores in the Akron area, eventually selling two to family members. Denton’s sister and brother-in-law own a video game store.

Denton wasn’t immediately drawn to owning her own business, perhaps because she grew up watching her father work 12-hour days in the clothing store, tailoring department and eventually an adjoining dry cleaning store. Her mother took over when her father passed away.

Denton dreamed instead of racing motorcycles. She became an accomplished motorcycle mechanic and trained specifically for Harley Davidson, racing motorcycles when her time and budget permitted. Her petite frame, long, flowing hair and feminine mannerisms didn’t hinder her success or performance in the garage. She proved herself time and again in an environment few women ever enter, much less succeed in. She earned respect for her skill and knowledge.

When the opportunity to open a family-owned business presented itself, Denton was ready. She had gained experience in management through her career and looked forward to following a dream, inspired by her father.

“My dad rarely took a day off,” Denton says. “I could never understand it before. Now I do. You have security as long as you’re willing to make it. If you really need a day off, you need to make it happen. If you need more money, you make it happen.”

While Denton manages the day-to-day operations of the bar and grill, her mother manages the kitchen. Denton’s brother negotiates financing, makes equipment purchases, closes the bar nearly every night and works in any capacity in which he’s needed.

“He’s really the back-up for every employee, filling in wherever he’s needed — sometimes as the bouncer and other times as a bartender,” she says.

Denton spends mornings at the bar long before it opens, accepting deliveries, ordering inventory, scheduling employees, preparing daily sales reports and getting ready for the evening’s activities. She recruits, hires, trains, supervises, and sometimes has to fire employees.

“When I’m interviewing, I look for personality. I look at how they treat me — that’s a reflection of how they will treat our customers,” she says.

Denton prefers to train employees herself, working with them to teach them to always anticipate the needs of customers. Keeping employees motivated in a service business can be challenging, and hiring wait staff with little experience has proven an advantage.

“Usually, they work out to be the best waitresses because you can train them the way you want them to do things,” she says. “It is also more motivating for someone who has never worked in this business before because it’s challenging and new and different. It’s easier to keep them motivated.”

Denton’s goal is to provide a high level of customer service.

“It’s the little things, like setting up the table the right way before the customers are even seated,” she says.

Denton says she, her brother and mother make a good team.

“Working with your family, there is definitely trust,” she says.

But she admits that working with family members can sometimes put a strain on relationships.

“We talk about the business all the time,” she says. “As a family, you have to be there whenever you’re needed, and sometimes it is harder to get along. I think it makes your family stronger, and in a weird way, it brings you closer.”

The owners of The Double Olive aren’t alone in their business struggles and triumphs. Family-owned businesses account for approximately 49 percent of the gross domestic product in the United States and 59 percent of the work force. According to the Center for Family Business at the University of Akron, family-owned businesses are responsible for creating 78 percent of all new jobs.

Remembering her father, Denton says he still inspires her.

“The way he looked at it, even if you didn’t have to work, you worked,” she says. “You work because you love it.” How to reach: The Double Olive, (330) 865-0188

D.R. Powers is an Akron-based freelance writer and regular contributor to SBN Magazine.