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Rise of the Female Breadwinners: Dawn Lafreeda

Photo: Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons, License: N/A

Photo by Sarah Brooke Lyons



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Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still doing what I love to do. I don’t know how many restaurants I’m going to have at that time or what it’ll look like, but I’ll still be very involved. I’ll probably still be building Denny’s.

What age do you expect to retire?

I used to say 50, but I think I’m going to keep doing it for as long as I love doing it. I make my own schedule, and I make time for my children. I don’t see myself, professionally, ever really retiring. It’s not in my plan at the moment.

What’s your biggest financial worry?

Business fluctuates with the economy. When things are good, business is good. My biggest worry is the uncertainty of the health care impact at the moment and the new laws going into place. I don’t understand what kind of financial impact it will have on me eventually. I always have to make sure I have enough to reimage my restaurants, meet payroll…do what we’re supposed to do. The uncertain things are the ones you can’t always place for like competition coming in across the street.

Are you able to save money on your current salary?

Oh, yeah. I’m able to save, sure. I don’t take an exorbitant amount on my salary. I take what I need to live. My savings are put into investments in new projects.

Has your career altered your personal life?

It’s enhanced it because of the opportunities I get to meet people, and people I get to engage with. I work with great people with great ideas. What alters it is how demanding it is and how it takes away from my family. But they partake in the benefits from me having my own business. It enables us to take great vacations, and have the nice car and the kids can go away to camp. There are rewards.

Did your mother work when you were growing up?

She did. Very hard. She was a district manager for Denny’s and supported three kids by herself.

Are you planning to always be the primary breadwinner?

Probably. I mean, when you’re someone who owns your own company, and you’re in control of your financial destiny…it’s how it works out. Would I like my partner to make more money? Sure! But, I’ll always be the primary winner. She worked as the regional director for the Special Olympics. Now she does all the human resources for us. That’s 2,7000 employees.

How has being the primary breadwinner affected your relationship(s)?

Um, we work together and we live together, but it’s worked out OK. I think sometimes you have to be careful not to take work home. It hasn’t really affected it. It can take you away, but everyone’s happier when you can incorporate. It makes for a better relationship that we work together. We travel. There’s strain that I’m not home to take care of the children or helping with household stuff, but I’m out there doing things for the better of the family.

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