Tom Walter and Milton Miller were juniors at Minot High School in 1984 when they went to work at the Roll'n Pin Restaurant. Starting out as busboys, the two made their way up the ranksdishwasher, cook, manager until Miller became a partner in the restaurant in 1998.
Five years later, Walter followed suit.
Until recently, Walter and Miller, along with Mike Neubauer, who was with the company for more than 30 years and owned 70 percent of the restaurant, shared in the decision-making process. That changed when Neubauer decided to retire, selling his shares to Walter and Miller, who jointly took over full ownership of the restaurant on Dec. 28.
Roll’n Pin Restaurant
Roll'n Pin, a family-style restaurant known for its homecooked meals and signature vegetable soup, has been in business since 1976 at 2145 N. Broadway.
"A big difference (between Roll'n Pin and other Minot restaurants) is that we are on North Hill where there are not a lot of other restaurants. With a majority of the shopping and restaurants on South Broadway, we focus on putting out a good meal," Miller said. He added that the team doesn't have any plans to drastically change the restaurant in terms of menu, but they would like to update their computer system and the decor in the future by replacing the traditional white plates with colored plates, which Miller said, "look fancier."
After working their way up for more than 26 years, "Making the sole decisions now, I love it. It's called freedom," Miller said.
But with ownership, comes more hard work.
Both Walter and Miller work six days a week, often double shifts, adding up to more than 60 hours per week, but, "Hard work pays off," Miller said. "It seems like people aren't devoted to their jobs anymore."
Job devotion doesn't seem to be an issue at the Roll'n Pin.
"There is a core of people here, like Bonnie, our head waitress, who have worked here for a long time sometimes 20 years," Miller said, adding that with roughly 28 employees, "We work right along side, busting our butt next to the employee, so we get more respect."
There's a secret to keeping employees longterm, Miller and Walter said. "We pay them a good wage in a good atmosphere we make them want to come to work," Miller said. And with a restaurant capacity of 166, "This is a high-stress environment, so if we don't goof around every once in a while, it makes the job not fun," Walter added.
Aside from the light-hearted work atmosphere, Miller said, not being a franchise has been a huge benefit because they don't have to deal with corporate executives or conform to a certain business model.
"We are a meat and potatoes, old-fashioned meals kind of restaurant," he said. "I want to make enough money to be able to retire at 55 and hopefully some of them coming up through the ranks will buy us out."
And while that dream is still years away, the team focuses on the present.
In the current economy, "business has tapered off, but we had a record summer with people traveling, the value of the U.S. dollar going up and the oil (activity)," Miller said. The state poker championship tournament that was held recently at The Vegas helped sales in the end of December and early January with more than 1,300 participants and attendees less than one block from the restaurant.
But, of the dreary 2009 economic forecast, Walter said, "I worry about it a little bit."
"We take it day by day," Miller added.