AT AGE 8, GARY BEISLER'S DAD handed him a broom to clean up around the family's deli-bar and lounge in Louisville, Ky. By 14, he advanced to screwdriver duty, digging bottle caps out of the parking lot's hot asphalt.
By 16, when his parents were on vacation, Beisler would run the family business, and by age 21 he had seen enough--walking away from 60- to 80-hour work weeks to become a Wendy's manager.
Since that day in 1978 when Beisler told his father he would quit the family firm to pursue bigger goals, the president and CEO of Wheat Ridge-based Qdoba Mexican Grill has never looked back.
After five years with Wendy's and stints with startup companies--Fresher Cooker and Rally's Hamburgers in his Louisville hometown--Beisler now oversees Qdoba, a 77-restaurant chain operating in 16 states with revenue growth from $14 million in 1999 to $75 million this year.
The privately held company plans to open 200 franchise stores in the next several years, including 60 in 2003 alone. Company-owned stores will expand from 27 to 47 next year.
"I always knew I was service oriented and knew I wanted to run a company from the first time I set foot in a startup chain," said the 45-year-old Beisler. 'The quick-casual restaurant is the segment to be in today, as time has gotten so precious to people and dining out has become a part of the American way of life."
Despite economic downturns and dried-up venture capital sources, Qdoba, at age 7, with its New Age Mexican offerings remains in the right place at the right time. Nation's Restaurant News named Qdoba...