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All in the family business

Store connections help immigrants gain independence

It all started with one man and one doughnut shop.

The man was Manuel S. Andrade, an immigrant from St. Michael's, in the Portuguese Azores. The shop was a Dunkin' Donuts he opened in a ragged part of Providence.

From that modest seed planted 34 years ago, a sprawling family tree has sprouted.

Andrade is believed to be the first Portuguese immigrant to open a Dunkin' Donuts store. Today, Portuguese immigrants own about 40 percent of the 1,650 Dunkin' Donuts stores in New England and upstate New York. Most can trace their roots -- in business, as well as blood -- back to Andrade.

The day Andrade took on the challenge of turning that first Dunkin' Donuts store from a money-drain into a moneymaker, he also began bringing relatives, neighbors, and family friends into the business. First, as employees. Then, as partners. Eventually, as fellow franchisees.

"These were people I believe in and trust, people who would be hard workers and dedicated," said Andrade, 62, who now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla. "It seemed like a simple way to have a chain reaction, and it just seemed like it worked."

It is not unusual for immigrants from the same country to gravitate toward one industry or one business, or even one franchise chain. In the Chicago area, Pakistani and Indian immigrants own about 90 percent of Dunkin' Donuts stores. In California, Cambodian immigrants have long dominated the independent doughnut shop market. In Boston, Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants run many of the city's parking garages.

Determined to stake out a future in a new country, many immigrants come armed with strong family ties and a willingness to work long hours. Both traits make them ideally suited to running small businesses or franchise operations like Dunkin' Donuts, which usually open at 4 a.m. and require bakers to work all night, said Terry Hill, vice president of communication for the International Franchise Association.

In many ways, however, the story of the Andrade clan is a distinctly New England phenomenon. Both the Dunkin' Donuts brand, which is headquartered in Randolph, and the Portuguese immigrant community are indelible parts of the region's landscape.

There are more Dunkin' Donuts stores here than in any other part of the country (1 per every 7,000 people, compared to the average of 1 per 25,000), so many that they are often used as reference points for directions. The first Dunkin' Donuts store -- now owned by one of Andrade's relatives -- opened in 1950 in Quincy. The area is also home to a Portuguese-speaking community of about 300,000, one of the largest enclaves in this country. A sizable number of those families emigrated from the Azore Islands.

So when Andrade's Dunkin' Donuts enterprise grew from one store to more than 40, and he wanted to spread word about a promising business venture to relatives and fellow immigrants, he had no trouble finding them.

Like Andrade, most of the Portuguese immigrants had left their island home because jobs were scarce, and their futures seemed limited. Here, they found jobs in factories, farms, or bakeries. Andrade began working as a baker for a Dunkin' Donuts store before deciding he would rather be his own boss.

"As soon as my business started building, I was bringing in more family, brothers-in-law, brothers, friends, cousins, neighbors, everyone I knew pertaining to family," said Andrade, who came to this country alone when he was 16, with one suitcase and $5 in his pocket. "There was never a day, never a time, never a moment that I did not do that."

At one point, Andrade's network of family and friends owned 400 Dunkin' Donuts stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At a recent family reunion, about 90 of the 125 people in attendance were in the Dunkin' Donuts business. Though the cost of a franchise varies by location, the company says it requires owners to have minimum liquid assets of $450,000 and a net worth of $900,000.

"All my family, we're all in the business," said John Cadete, 49, one of Andrade's nephews, his fingers fluttering like wind-swept leaves as he counted the number of cousins now operating Dunkin' Donuts stores.

Cadete, who came to this country at 13, opened his first Dunkin' Donuts in 1976, with Tony Andrade, Manuel's brother, as his partner. Then working as a maintenance supervisor at Rhode Island Hospital, Cadete had long dreamed of running his own business. So he sold his first house to get the $55,000 needed at the time to buy the franchise.

After five years of working seven days a week, Cadete had purchased two more stores. Today, he owns 35 Dunkin' Donuts in the Boston area, primarily in Brockton and Falmouth. His partners are now his two children, Jennifer Eskander, 27, and Jason, 24.

Jennifer, whose husband is also in the business, remembers her answer when elementary school teachers asked what she wanted to be as an adult: "I used to say, `Dunkin' Donuts.' I always said that was what I wanted."

Jennifer and her brother began working behind the counter as teenagers, during the summer, after school, on Saturdays, and sometimes on the night shift. It was a family affair. Cadete and his wife often split shifts -- one working days, the other at night.

For a few years, Cadete's younger brother and father also came to work for him because they wanted to learn the business.

"Before Tony Andrade, I didn't even know what a doughnut was," said Joseph Cadete, 46. "And until my brother got involved, I didn't even know what a Dunkin' Donuts store was."

Joseph Cadete learned what both things were very quickly. After two years working for his older brother, Joseph and his father, Urbano, opened their own store. Today, Joseph Cadete owns 12 stores.

In a sense, said Joseph Cadete, going into the same business as other family members is a way of continuing an Old World tradition. In the old country, Urbano Cadete was a carpenter and furniture maker who ran his own business.

"If we hadn't come to the US, I probably would have followed in his footsteps," said Joseph Cadete.

It is a tradition that dovetails smoothly with a basic tenet in the franchising business, said Terry Hill of the International Franchise Association.

"One of the things that we preach is that when you're looking at buying a franchise, be sure to get family buy-in. Your family becomes part of the business one way or another. And with many immigrants, the families are still more close-knit," said Hill. "It's the same as it was with immigrants coming 200 years ago. They looked at family as labor on farms. It was an opportunity to help family members get a leg up."

Victor Carvalho, 36, a cousin of the Cadetes, said he actually caught the Dunkin' Donuts "bug" while working the night shift in his father's store. That's when he realized how much he enjoyed being in charge, rather than working for someone else.

"I think this is the kind of thing that I would have looked for by myself, but the family involvement made it a lot easier. Without that, it would have been a longer road," said Carvalho, 36, who owns the original Dunkin' Donuts store in Quincy and just bought his eighth outlet.

The tradition is extending to newer Portuguese-speaking immigrants: Carvalho, and other Portuguese franchisees, often hire Brazilian newcomers as employees. And to younger generations: Joseph Cadete's son recently joined him in the business, and Jennifer Eskander hopes her 17-month-old son Nathan will one day be a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee.

Not only has the family become part of the business, the business has become part of the family. At reunions, weddings, and other gatherings, laughed Joseph Cadete, the talk inevitably turns to doughnuts and the coffee usually comes from Dunkin' Donuts.

"Most people think it's odd, but it never strikes me as odd," said Carvalho, when he considered the number of relatives and relations in the business. "To me, it's second nature."

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