After Bryan Ketelhut and Tom Moran moved to Dallas from the suburbs of Detroit, they lived in a hotel room for about a month. But the employees of their Little Caesar’s franchise, which opened on Falls Drive in June 2008, took good care of them. “People were always bringing us food,” Moran says. “They would bring us dinner every night.” The partners say they try to keep a family atmosphere at their business, which has 23 employees, all of whom live in the surrounding neighborhood. Employee turnover has been remarkably low, especially for a fast-food franchise. Almost everyone who works there started with the store the day it opened, Ketelhut says. “Everyone is very tight-knit,” he says. Ketelhut and Moran chose Oak Cliff to open their first franchise because they wanted mild winters, and demographic data showed a high concentration of Hispanic families, who are a good target for their star product, the $5 Hot-and-Ready pizza deal. They chose the location near Falls and Westmoreland Road because it is “nestled in the neighborhood,” Ketelhut says. They took a risk on the neighborhood and a 2,700-square-foot space that is nearly twice the size of a typical Little Caesar’s franchise. The store has been robbed once, as part of a string of 20 or so robberies in the area, but their investment in Oak Cliff so far has paid off. Their franchise is the highest-grossing Little Caesar’s store in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and they’ve been quick to give back to the community. They brought the “Love Truck,” a huge catering bus that Detroit-based Little Caesar’s uses to relieve natural disasters, to Galveston after Hurricane Ike. After students at Celestino Mauricio Soto Jr. Elementary School finished the TAKS test, they brought the Love Truck to them for a pizza party. “That was all out of our own pockets,” Moran says. Even though they’re “just two white guys from Michigan,” Ketelhut and Moran say they’ve found a home in Oak Cliff. “People see that we’re outsiders, but they still accept us,” Ketelhut says.
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