YOUNG VOICES: Step outside franchises, support local businesses

2013-11-11T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Step outside franchises, support local businessesBy Samantha Gross
November 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As I head into my ninth month as a server at Tyler’s Tender Railroad Restaurant, I have begun to appreciate the quality of service that comes with a local business.

Tyler’s Tender is the cleanest, most well-kept restaurant I have ever stepped foot in, and, like many local businesses, has owners who truly care about the happiness of their customers and the quality of their service.

Similar businesses enforce a strong sense of community and keep dollars in the local economy, a breath of fresh air in the heavily franchised area Northwest Indiana has become.

Paul and Emily Petrie, owners of Tyler’s Tender, are two outstanding examples of everything hardworking business owners advocate. By spending the past several months working for them, I have come to understand the trials and tribulations of maintaining a local restaurant while learning to appreciate the love and dedication that goes into owning a family business like Tyler’s Tender.

Emily and Paul’s experience in a major fast food company drew them toward buying a franchise, but to Paul Petrie “it was counterintuitive to pay money to someone else for my work in the form of franchise fees, so we decided we were going to do our own thing.”

Inspired by their children’s love for trains and their appreciation for fine dining, Emily and Paul went forth to create a restaurant atmosphere that appeals to families like their own. The Petries wanted a place in which children could enjoy themselves while the parents could, too, have a positive dining experience.

“We tried to meld really good quality food for the adults and a really fun environment for the kids,” Paul Petrie said.

This beginning idea has fruitfully progressed into the restaurant that is now in its seventh year of business. Successful small businesses are vital to the success of the economy, meeting local needs by spotting a gap in the market and taking the risk to fill it.

Local businesses also develop personal relationships with regular customers, as I have grown to learn from the families that come into Tyler’s Tender week after week. The sense of familiarity is vital to generating the tight-knit community many towns strive to create.

Above all, local businesses need local support. Without it, they have no foundation to build off of. So as a local business enthusiast [and employee] I urge those in the community to step outside your franchised realm and try the bakery your neighbor opened or that little restaurant that has always appeared interesting to you.

Small businesses, unlike the franchises that engulf our scope, offer services that are from the heart.

“I think you are going to be far more passionate about, and put much more heart into, something that you own yourself,” Petrie said.

Samantha Gross, of Schererville, is a senior at Lake Central High School. Share your thoughts at

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