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RESTAURATEUR CREDITS 'DOING THE DECENT THING' FOR THE PHENOMENAL SUCCESS OF HIS RESTAURANT GROUP

 LEXINGTON, Ky., May 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Mike Scanlon is founder and president of Thomas and King, a Kentucky-based franchisee of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bars. The five-year-old company, which will open its 21st restaurant this month, expects to reach $50 million in sales by the end of the year and $70 million next year.
 The company's 11 Ohio stores are split among the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton areas.
 Scanlon, 37, is a bear of a man with the Southerner's gift for metaphor and a penchant for old Fords. But despite the distracting power of the enormous and rapid success of his company, at the top of his mind is the fact that treating people right, whether they're guests or employees, is what brought the fortune.
 The following is an interview with Scanlon.
 Q: What is your vision of the future for this company?
 A: We're going to stop 10 feet in front of the Peter Principle wall.
 Q: How do you know when you're going to get to that?
 A: We measure, we try to pay attention. We try to stay in touch and we know what control looks like and what control doesn't look like.
 We're making so much money now, we don't have to get any bigger.


But there is a big impact to be made running the company the way we believe in running one, so we'll continue.
 Q: Are you rare?
 A: I think it's a dead rarity the way we run a company. Service is the last thing that America still has. It is the last thing that you can still do without money and high technology.
 I believe we've got something by the tail that nobody seems to want to deliver. Nobody wants to cut labor and continue to maintain service. You don't sacrifice your guests ever. We're a bottom-line conscious company. But we are top-line driven and top line starts with people.
 Q: You're five years old and you'll be hitting million dollar weeks here soon; what has driven that?
 A: We go and focus on the person that we're dealing with to get the win whether it's the guest getting a great meal or an employee having a great job.
 If we do both of those we'll make so much money, we can't run away from it. It's not just one thing. We don't do anything magic, but what we do, we do real well.
 Some restaurant companies are so budget oriented that a torn booth just has to stay the same until next Wednesday when the budget opens again for repairs and maintenance. That's not fair and it never works. We know if you do the right thing, everything comes to pass.
 Q: How would you describe your management style?
 A: To be successful, you have to be willing to be accountable and you have to be empowered. If I want you to do a good job, I've got to lay the tools out for you to do a good job. We send employees to EAP's, we have health and life insurance programs, we have 401(k)s, we put them on vacations they weren't qualified to go on yet.
 We try to take care of the human being and try to take care of the family issues and do the good guy stuff but in the same breath I will hold you so accountable.
 Q: What makes Applebee's excellent?
 A: It appeals to all kinds of people at the same time. You'll find the suits, blue collars, punk rockers, gray hair.
 The surveys that have been done for Applebee's tell us it's not the price value that they think is so neat, it's not the great food.
 It's the friendliness, zap, good feel in the restaurant that they like. Some people can deliver it and some people can't.
 What we are really trying to deliver is that zap when they get into that store.
 Q: What does Thomas and King bring to the equation? Applebee's has all types of guidelines on how they want a restaurant to be run.
 A: It is the standards. You don't wink at the rules. You do what the book says. We will not flinch on the standards. People that knew me in high school would laugh. You've got to have good rules. That's part of the enablement and accountability.
 Q: How important are the benefits you've given to those employees. How important is that to the overall success of the mix?
 A: We had great employees and great success long before we had great benefits. Let me tell you what real benefits are. Benefits are knowing that when you are 22-years-old and not real bad looking that you don't have to have sex with your manager to get a good schedule.
 A benefit is not working with a co-worker that is so hopped up on cocaine that they are bringing in strange friends and I can't do business because of the weirdness.
 A benefit is not having a boss who is pushing you and putting you in a stress position that isn't fair.
 It's called corporate hygiene. If you don't have the corporate hygiene, the benefits are worthless.
 I don't want to call it Christian behavior because nobody on the outside would understand it that way, but it's the things you learn in church, family, it's the things you learn whether it's God- oriented or not.
 The decent thing still makes money.
 -0- 5/10/93
 /EDITOR'S NOTE: Interviews available/
 /CONTACT: Robert Toevs of Powers and Associates, 513-721-5353, for Thomas and King/


CO: Thomas and King ST: Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio IN: FOD SU:

KL -- CL006 -- 6266 05/10/93 07:46 EDT
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Date:May 10, 1993
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