Restaurant business

Angela Smith leads impressive expansion of family restaurant business during COVID

“The community put their arms around us and people were lined up around the block,” Angela said. “Their support has been essential to our success.”

Local businesses, including the Milwaukee Bucks, ordered catered meals, which also provided a boost.

The Smiths forged ahead with their expansion plans that doubled the space at their flagship restaurant to accommodate more seating and an additional service counter in September 2020. But they didn’t stop there.

Daddy’s on Bluemound, a diner-style restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, opened in March 2021.

Before COVID, two of Smith’s six adult children worked in the restaurant. Today, four children work in the two restaurants.

“The growth of our business has inspired them to step up and do more,” Angela said. “They got involved in a different way.”

It’s not just the front of the house where we find Angela and Bennie’s children. Each of the six Smith children – Amber (28), Benjamin (27), Ashley (26), Andrew (22), Jeremiah (21), Bria (20) – has a section of the menu that bears its name.

Angela leaned heavily on what she learned at Stritch while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human services management to successfully manage restaurant ownership, operation and expansion during a global pandemic.

“You always have that education to lean on when you need it,” Angela said.

Angela enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College to study accounting straight out of high school, and then “life happened” as Angela puts it.

“I came to Stritch when I was 35. I was looking for evening classes because of my family and work responsibilities and when I saw that Stritch offered a program that I attended once a week, that was a bonus. Stritch made going back to school easier. I was learning with other adults who had been away from school for a while and that meant we were all rusty. But Stritch really helped us reacclimatize. Even as a mature student, I had access to all student services.

Angela quickly discovered that she could apply what she was learning in the Business Management and Workplace Human Services courses at ACC Management Corporation and her studies helped her better understand her job.

“I believe I got the most out of the program and my degree as an adult,” Angela said. “The cohort model helped affirm that I was a leader. The final courses in my program helped bridge me into a new role in the real world.”

In addition to her role as Director of Business Management at Daddy’s, Angela is President of Dulaney Real Estate Investment Services, where she works with real estate developers, landlords and management companies on tax credit projects for low-income housing, project-based HUD Housing, fixed rate rental market and property management.

“2020 has been slow, but things have definitely picked up speed in 2021 and are still busy,” Angela said.

As Angela reflects on her Stritch experience, she “can’t believe” she finished the program and graduated “all in one fell swoop.”

“Having a Stritch degree validated me,” Angela said. “It’s an important sign for the business community, especially lenders and funders, which has helped us succeed.”

Even though 11 years have passed since Angela graduated, she still takes the lessons of Stritch with her.

“I learned to be flexible when I was at Stritch and it has certainly helped me during our expansion. The program has helped me in so many aspects of my restaurant operations and my real estate work, especially how dealing with people, managing staff, running an organization and putting out fires throughout my career.

Celebrating Diversity in Stritch shares the stories of members of the Cardinal Stritch University family who are transforming the communities where they live, work, serve and lead.