Scaling a restaurant chain isn’t easy in any economy. It’s been even tougher for operators since COVID-19 arrived. That hasn’t stopped Raji Sankar and Randhir Sethi, co-CEOs of Wholesome International. Their Pittsburgh-based company, founded in 2004, owns 31 restaurants—25 Five Guys burger restaurants and six Choolaah eateries in Pennsylvania and Ohio—and employs 700 people. They are now on track to expand over the next few years to 30 locations at Choolaah, a chain of Indian restaurants known for melt-in-your-mouth dishes cooked in tandoori ovens at very high temperatures.
Dan Fantasia’s sales recruitment firm, Treeline, Inc., in Wakefield, Mass., had grown to 30 employees by 2019 but something wasn’t quite working. Cash flow was tight and profits weren’t what Fantasia, the company’s president, hoped they would be. “It felt like we were out of control, a little bit,” he says.
Bill Wilson—a 26-year Air Force veteran—named his home improvement company Valor Home Services because, he says, “I have always felt like the protector and provider in life.” Even before his military career, he helped his father raise his younger brother and sister while he was still a boy, upon losing their mother.