Join The Discussion

 

Super PAC Men: How political consultants took a Fort Worth oilman on a wild ride

The head of a Texas oil dynasty joined the parade of wealthy political donors, aiming to flip the Senate to Republicans. By the time consultants were done with him, the war chest was drained and fraud allegations were flying

read more >

Bon Appétit: New French restaurant dishes out the finest in Fort Worth

Barely open six months, Le Cep, a contemporary French restaurant proffering fine dining, is stirring up Fort Worth’s culinary scene.

read more >

Bridge collapse on I-35 north of Austin

SALADO, Texas (AP) — Emergency crews are responding to a reported bridge collapse along an interstate in Central Texas.

read more >

Bombay Co.'s former HQ building purchased

The Bombay Co.’s former Fort Worth headquarters building has been sold, with private equity fund Diversified International Partners snapping up the seven-story, 122,828-square-foot structure at 550 Bailey St.

read more >

Latin-inspired restaurant set to open in downtown Fort Worth

Downtown Fort Worth’s dining scene is about to get spicier with the opening of a new restaurant featuring Latin-inspired coastal cuisine.

read more >

 

For Cindy Gaston the key to success has proven to be herself.

Cindy Gaston in her soon-to-open bakery. 

Photo by Jon P. Uzzel 

Celestina Blok
Special to the Business Press

For Cindy Gaston the key to success has proven to be herself.
Now, in the midst of opening her third business – a new bakery in Coppell – Gaston has a proven track record. But that wasn’t always the case.
Besides having a sound business plan, one’s personal story is critical to determining whether a lender believes a potential borrower will succeed in a new entrepreneurial endeavor, said Community Bank Vice President Mark Thielke. It was Gaston’s story that convinced Thielke to take a chance on her.
A nursing school graduate and 25-year American Airlines ticket agent, Gaston purchased franchise rights five and a half years ago to a prominent downtown 7-Eleven at Summit Avenue and Seventh Street.
“I saw in the paper that 7-Eleven was going to start franchising,” said the 47-year-old Fort Worth native, who spent her early childhood in a project community in Haltom City with seven brothers. “There was a 7-Eleven downtown, a half-mile from my condo, and there was a sign that said available for franchise. I knew I could do something on my own and work for myself and always believed that everything I did was with the help of God.”
Gaston bought the location and worked 18-hour days for the first year, finally hiring an experienced manager after two years. At the recommendation of 7-Eleven’s market manager, she gradually began to let others help her and gave her employees more 
responsibility.
“When you’re new, you don’t know. You just have to keep the business running,” she said.
While seeing an average of 1,500 customers daily, constantly cleaning and restocking, learning the ins and outs of labor laws and how to cope with employees and delegate tasks, Gaston grew revenues from $1.7 million when she acquired the location to $2.4 million today. In 2011, she was ready for a second undertaking – turning a closed Wendy’s restaurant in Azle into an Arby’s franchise.
“I like the franchise business because it’s a turn-key operation,” Gaston said. “They teach you everything and are right there with you as you’re progressing along. They train you to make sure all the employees are where they need to be. You get a lot of support.”
But with zero restaurant experience, Gaston needed to convince a bank to lend her the money to pursue her first fast-food project.
“Community Bank was the only one who wanted to venture out and take a chance on me opening a restaurant,” said Gaston. “I guess they saw that I knew was I was doing at 7-Eleven, because my sales have increased tremendously over the years.”
Now Gaston owns the Arby’s at 201 N. Stewart St., which is averaging $750,000 to $800,000 in annual revenues, and is preparing to open her third business – Bistro M cafe at 215 S. Denton Tap Road in Coppell, a spin-off of Grapevine’s Main Street Bistro & Bakery. Gaston will be the restaurant’s first franchisee and is helping the owners establish the franchising process. She’s hired a culinary graduate from Dallas to be Bistro M’s chef and is anticipating an early June opening. Within a year and a half she hopes to open a Fort Worth outlet.
“I’m ready for the next level,” she said. “It’s not really a turn-key like Arby’s or 7-Eleven.
“They’re working on getting their system in place and I’m helping them as we go along. It’s a big undertaking. I’m nervous and excited but I think overall it will be a good experience.”
Thielke says Gaston’s diverse resume and genuineness contributed to his belief in her capability.
“First, she has a degree in nursing. My wife teaches nursing at TCU [Texas Christian University] and I have come to believe nursing graduates are smart and disciplined,” he said. “Travel and corporate employment at American Airlines gave Cindy the benefit of exposure to the world and people skills while fitting into a corporate structure. These are important for folks interested in franchise operations. When she bought her ownership in 7-Eleven and I understood her management success there, I knew she could handle the entire spectrum of customers in a fast-paced service 
environment.”
Thielke said he studied her 7-Eleven store, unannounced, and favorably noted her employees and the cleanliness of the environment. He also appreciated Gaston’s caring for her ailing, incapacitated mother.
“This indicated to me she was kind and of good human character – a good personality make-up for a manager-owner who wants to retain good customers and employees,” 
he said.
Gaston acknowledges the importance of employees and the reciprocal loyalty that’s required between her and her team in her success thus far.
“You’ve got to compensate them well and take care of them,” she said. “You need to be there for them just like they’re there for you. I always say you treat people like you want to be treated. When an employee needs something they know they can come to me. If you don’t have good employees there’s no way for you to continue on to do other 
ventures.” 
 

< back

Email   email
hide
Catch
How 'bout them Cowboys?