“Maybe I need a psychiatrist,” says Donato Frattaroli, scion of the North End family behind Artu, Ducali, Filippo, Lucia, and Ward 8. “But there’s never been a day that I’ve said, ‘I need to go to work.’ When you’re with family, it’s not ‘work,’ ” he says.
At least that’s true when a family business runs well, especially a restaurant business. After all, says Frattaroli, “Restaurants are where we meet our friends, where the kids go when they’re home from college, where we have a drink and talk.”
It’s not always cocktails and chatting, of course. Just consider the Market Basket saga, wherein the bickering Demoulas family could derail an otherwise successful enterprise. In the best-case scenario, however, a well-run family business fosters loyalty, longevity, and a built-in support system.
Donato’s nephew Philip Frattaroli, who owns Ducali, went to law school but was lured into the fold by his fond memories. He opened Ducali in 2008, next to his father’s restaurant, Filippo. “Being a lawyer, you’re dealing with people at the worst times. In a restaurant, it’s social and happy,” says Philip. Happier still if you can raid your dad’s fridge in a pinch — which he admits doing on occasion.
It’s no surprise, then, that “on average, family companies perform better. There have been numerous studies on this,” says John A. Davis, who leads the Families in Business program at Harvard Business School. “They do a few things really right: They’re focused on delivering high-quality service, they know their product, and they have customers who last a long time.”
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