SWISHER- Many people find a business they love and become a regular. Shawn Irons goes one step beyond: she buys the business.
That's how she happened upon her newest business, Maddi B's Take N' Bake Pizza Co., a quaint little pizzeria and ice cream shop in Swisher. Eat-in booths were just added, along with a chalkboard wall for kids to draw on, making it a fun place for families to kick back and relax.
Since Irons and her family live within a mile of Maddi B's, she said they frequently drove past the pizzeria. Every time Irons thought, "I just love this little place."
Eventually she contacted the owner and said if they would ever consider selling, she was interested in buying. About a year later, in April, the owner contacted her ready to make the sale.
Irons was thrilled. She and her fianc?, Jon Rife, jumped at the chance to own it.
"It's just such a cute little shop," she said. "I have two teenagers and I just thought this would be something we could do together, and grow as a family."
Irons has a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old son. The older son has already started working at Maddi B's after school.
In addition to the pizzeria, Irons and Rife have also owned Shooters on Second, a bar and restaurant in downtown Swisher, since April of last year.
Irons is also the owner of Mother Goose Day Care in Cedar Rapids. The facility, which serves 92 children, has been operating under Irons' ownership for 10 years.
Each business brings something different to her life, Irons said. Shooters is a fun environment that allows the bartender and staff to see friends and neighbors in a different light. With Mother Goose, Irons has participated in a decade's worth of children's lives. She said it's rewarding to run into teenagers who came to Mother Goose as kids. The people are the best part of any business, she added.
"We've met a lot of good people and created a lot of good friendships," she said.
Hopefully what Maddi B's will bring is a fun and valuable family experience, she said.
"I'm most excited about teaching my children work ethic and having them beside me," she said. Working at a restaurant can be a formative experience and will likely make her sons see a night of dining out in a different light.
For instance, leaving behind a mess on the table can seem harmless to the patron--but it means something different to the busboy who has to clean it up.
Another perk of owning a business is being able to work for yourself, Irons said.
"The best thing about being your own boss is that you're working for your own success," she said. "You're not working for someone else's numbers and goals. You're working for your own goals."
The freedom does also come with drawbacks, though. Being 100 percent accountable for the business can be tough.
"It really is 24/7 for every business," Irons said. "You don't get to clock out at 5 o'clock or go on family vacations without worrying. Even though you're on your own time, you still have to worry about being available."
Even if you're not doing physical work for the business, she said, you're doing mental work constantly. Thinking about scheduling, planning events, brainstorming advertising ideas- even if the business isn't open, there's plenty of work to be done.
And besides, it's all part of the lesson as Irons teaches her children the value of good honest work.
That's what's served up with your pizza at Maddi B's.