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Forged in the cradle

Posted 4/26/16 (Tue)

Forged in the cradle

By Cecile Wehrman
The new owners of Crosby Self Serve have known each other since birth and are following their mothers’ example of entrepreneurship.
Shelby (Johnson) McDermott and Jerrica Olson are assuming ownership from the Waters family, which has operated the convenience store and pizza and sub parlor for the past five years.
Shelby’s mother, Kris, and Jerrica’s mother, Kellie, became business partners themselves back in 1993 when they opened a daycare, receiving the first award of Crosby city sales tax funds ever.
Shelby and Jerrica, both 23, are exactly the same age their moms were when they went into business. They are using a different incentive program --   Crosby’s Renaissance Zone -- to aid their own business launch.
Given their long acquaintance, it’s no surprise “we finish each other’s sentences all the time,” said Jerrica.
Sometimes, added Shelby, they even speak words in unison.
Though Jerrica worked at other local restaurants through high school, she never worked at Self Serve as a teen. At one time, she looked seriously at purchasing another Crosby restaurant on her own.
Shelby, however, brings in 10 years of prior work experience at the business.
She was only 13 years old when her sisters, Robbi Larsen and Sheila Haugland purchased Self Serve and they put their little sister to work.
“I was only doing dishes and then they put me on a sub shift. I didn’t even know where the hamburger was,” Shelby laughed.
Though Shelby initially had aspirations of pursuing a medical career, by the time she was a senior in high school people were already predicting that in 10 years, she would be back in Crosby as the owner of Self Serve.
Though she left for college, she was commuting home most weekends to work there. She also worked for a year as the bookkeeper at The Journal, experience she said is coming in handy now that she will be doing the books for her own business.
Shelby marvels at how big a part Self Serve has already played in her life -- as a senior in high school, she even met her future husband there.
“He was a ‘creep’ who kept coming in,” Shelby laughed, and she didn’t like him because he was always talking on his cell phone while she was trying to take his order.
Working a purchase
Shelby and Justin first looked seriously at purchasing the business a couple of years ago, but a deal never came together.
Then, last October, “We were joking about it,” said Jerrica, that the two of them should buy the business.
The Waterses, who purchased the business from Larsen and Haugland had by that time had it for sale for nearly two years.
Aly Waters, Bill’s daughter-in-law, said having a baby and wanting to be closer to family in South Carolina were the driving factors in wanting to sell. She and her husband, Brett, rode out most of the oil boom working with a continual parade of staff members, before finally assembling a more stable crew.
Shelby and Jerrica are well aware of the challenge staffing presents, but Aly said they may be more successful in attracting workers since they are better acquainted locally.
For sure, said Aly, “They know the business,” even though they are young.
Already, said the new partners, they’ve recruited Shelby’s brother, Taylor, to work full time making pizzas, a job he held all through high school. Lucy Brodal-Frandsen, who recently moved back to the area having left her waitressing job at Self Serve when she got married, is also returning.
Justin, along with Jerrica’s significant other, Craig Martens, will help out in the evenings as needed, and a cousin of Shelby’s has been hired for evening shifts, Jeri Billingsley.
Expanding hours
 Recently, with Shelby and Jerrica added to the staff to ease the transition prior to the official closing of the sale, the restaurant has resumed evening dining operations and hours will expand further after May 11.
Currently, the restaurant is open Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays until 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After May 11, the restaurant will be open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At that point, the convenience store will also remain open daily until 10 p.m.
The new partners plan no major changes to the menu but they would like to offer more specials including a “Southern Pit” Saturday to capitalize on Craig’s barbecue skills.
The restaurant will offer a special on Mother’s Day, May 8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring a full menu and specials to be announced. May 11 will be Wing Night, with wings for 60 cents, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
With Jerrica expecting her first child in August, the partners are looking at longterm ownership.
Though five years seems to be the average time any owner has operated the business, “Hopefully, we can triple it,” said Shelby, who is working on a 15- year plan.
Those who know the work ethic of these young women won’t have a hard time believing they’ll give it all they’ve got  -- and then some.