By Eric Heinz
Richard Brown, owner of Biggie’s Burgers in San Clemente, is seeking military veterans who would like to own their own small burger shop.
Through the program Sunrise Warriors, Brown assists veterans looking to start their own enterprise.
Brown said he was inspired to create this personal program after a man he knew was killed in action in Afghanistan. Brown said the man told him he wanted to open a burger restaurant as soon as he retired from the military.
“What we do is we mentor you and take you under our wing,” Brown said. “A lot of these guys are getting out of the service in less than 20 years because they’re injured in some way.”
Brown said depending how well the store does, some of the owners could make a small fortune. He started his career with Taco Bell in the late 1960s, opening stores around California and eventually the rest of the United States. Brown helped establish the first Taco Bell in San Clemente in 1967.
The program started in 2014, but it’s taken Brown and his current warriors some time to locate and acquire applicable land, submit for permitting and everything else that comes with starting a small restaurant.
All the restaurants will be replicas of the Biggie’s in San Clemente, Brown said, because it will be easier to train everyone.
The way it works is the veterans have to show they have enough start-up money to get the venture going, then Brown said he will invest in the business and help train the owner and general manager until the restaurant is running smoothly.
“In some cases, I will guarantee the trainee secures his lease,” Brown said.
Training takes about 30 days. Although Brown has stake in the business in the beginning, he intends to lower his equity year by year until the veteran is the sole owner.
A member of the Air Force, Brown was involved with refueling B-52 bombers in the Vietnam War and had enlisted for the Korean War.
Brown is currently working with two military veterans to open restaurants in Texas. One of them is Bobby Henline, who was in a landmine explosion while he was deployed and was severely injured. Brown said he’s working on establishing a store with him in San Antonio, Texas. Henline is now a stand-up comedian and a public speaker. Veterans who are interested in the program can visit www.sunrisewarriors.com for more information or call 949.366.5259.