GENEVA – If you see Rob Mondi of Geneva, chances are at least one of his two sons will not be far behind.
Mondi’s oldest son Robert, 18, began working at the Buffalo Wings & Rings, 1279 Rickert Drive in Naperville, after his father took it over in September. His other son Alec, 16, used to work at one of seven Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants where Mondi is a franchisee with a business partner.
Mondi’s sons worked for their father in 2011 at his Slider Frank’s restaurant in St. Charles before he closed that business and moved on to other projects.
They plan to give their father a helping hand at yet another business closer to home when he finalizes plans for a new restaurant somewhere in Geneva. Mondi is not ready to go public with the concept yet, but he is working on the location and hopes to open sometime early next year.
The type of family involvement that Mondi has can be good for business, said Philip Schram, executive vice president of franchise development for Buffalo Wings & Rings.
Schram said that 15 of the franchise’s 45 locations have more than one generation of family involved in the business.
“When you are a leader with a family focus, you start to attract people [to the restaurant] with a family focus,” Schram said.
Schram said Buffalo Wings & Rings is a family restaurant that competes with sports bars that cater more to adults. Mondi said customers seem to like locally owned and operated restaurants.
“If owners are willing to bring their children into their business, it lends credibility to it,” Mondi said. “It’s not a fly-by-night operation.”
Mondi said that he doesn’t go out of his way to market the family aspect, but his son Robert said that it does come up when the regular customers see him constantly and ask why he always seems to be working at the restaurant.
Robert Mondi said that his co-workers were unsure of him at first because he’s the owner’s son, but he received no special treatment from his father and gets the same shifts and pay as everyone else.
Robert Mondi said his father is his idol, and he plans to follow in his footsteps. He currently takes classes at the College of DuPage and plans to major in restaurant management and minor in business hospitality.
Robert’s brother Alec is already taking culinary classes at Geneva High School. He already has his father’s passion for entrepreneurship and is saving up money with a friend to open a food truck. Mondi appreciates his son’s drive but wants him to take businesses classes and finish college first.
Alec Mondi had no problem working for his father, but he left his job at the Warrenville Dunkin’ Donuts, 2S721 Route 59, due to the long commute from Geneva. Mondi would always stop in to see Alec on Tuesdays and help him close, and Robert would bring him dinner.
Even though he is not involved in any of his father’s stores now, Alec Mondi said he is always willing to help him out. The Mondi brothers said they have learned so much about working and management from their father.
Mondi’s sons said he is serious about his work, but he knows how to laugh. Mondi said he appreciates the extra time with his sons, even on a busy work day.
“As a father, you work awful long hours to provide for your family,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to work those hours with your family.”