Family Ties Works Into Franchise


Juggling tasks: Junior Brenda Herdandez, an employee at La Tolteca, waits tables at the Jefferson City location. She said her favorite part of working there is spending time with her family.

Christina Holt

Junior Brenda Hernandez’s family owns a chain restaurant, La Tolteca. With locations set up in Jefferson City, Lebanon, and as of this year, Boonville, their family business is booming.
Despite fewer than one third of family businesses surviving the transition from first to second generation ownership, Brenda hopes to not be on the majority side of that statistic.
“Working in a family business is tough. Everyone wants to do what they think is right, which leads to arguments and drama,” Hernandez said. “Many times you’ll have a family member do something wrong or something that my dad doesn’t like and he’ll try to tell them that they need to fix whatever they did wrong. The family member would get mad and leave.”
Disagreements occurring in family businesses are not uncommon. According to the Family Business Alliance, 36 percent of family businesses said their family quarreled about the performance of family members employed within the firm.
“Drama is big when working with family. There’s not a day that goes by that drama doesn’t exist,” Hernandez said. “Half of my family doesn’t even talk to each other because of family business and drama.”
Although there are many negative aspects to working in a family business, there are attributable benefits. Research even shows that family businesses help society by promoting economic stability for the community.
According to A. Bakr Ibrahim and Willard Ellis’s book, “Family Businesses as an Economic Phenomenon,” approximately 90 percent of the businesses in the United States are family-owned and controlled.
“The benefits [of owning a family business] are that you can be your own boss and get paid well,” Hernandez said. “If you need time off, you can take it and you don’t have to ask anybody. You make the rules.”
Freshman Alyvia Swearingen’s family owns the Bonkers Buttonwood Dr. location. She goes from school to Bonkers for work every day.
“It’s my first job, so it’s really convenient. It’s really nice because I’m always surrounded by my family and friends to guide me through [it.] It’s always a fun time,” Swearingen said. “My dad guides me through what getting paid is like and getting scheduled, but also joking around and trying to scare each other at work.”
The identity of each family member is defined by his/her relationship (or lack thereof) with the family business.
Family issues, thus, place restraints on the businesses.
“I think our businesses are very successful, though there are some days that are slow,” Hernandez said. “No one comes in, but that’s every business due to the weather [or] any activities going on in the city.”