To say local chef and restaurateur Bonnie Saran is a bit of a do-it-yourself-er is something of an understatement. One of the county’s “Empire Builders,” Saran has opened six local eateries in the past decade.
One thing that has been consistent from the founding of Mount Kisco’s Little Kabab Station in 2011 straight through a second Little Drunken Chef location in the heart of White Plains this past year is that Saran has never relied on bank loans to open her new businesses.
“99% of the time I work with the same people: my electrician, plumber, carpenters. All of them have really helped me out because without them I don’t think I would have been able to pull this off,” she says.
However, in bankrolling the new White Plains spot, Saran tried something new: She’s letting her employees buy into the company.
“Most of my staff has been here a long time — since we opened, day one — and they’ve seen me open one [restaurant] after the other,” Saran says. “It’s time to now put it in their hands.”
The profit sharing system has no minimum — Saran says some staff members have chipped in as little as $300 all the way up to one who bought in for $5,000 — and no time constraints on when an employee can buy in — they can set it up on day one or one thousand.
“Over the years, they have a major part to play with all this. I think, from my side, the least I can do for them is to offer them something like this. I’m hoping that it does well and they’re happy with their investments and they have a sense of belonging to the place.”
“I had it in my mind like, ‘At least for the first year, I’m going to give them a 15% return on their investment,’ and that’s something I am totally going to make sure does happen,” she adds.
If year-end dividends are high enough, Saran says she is already considering rolling out the profit sharing program to team members at her existing “Littles.”
“I was just actually talking about this last night with a few team members and there is a possibility that I will be doing that,” she says. “And then I can sit in the Bahamas and they can start working their butts off and start sending me the money!”