Published June 20, 2006
Volume 14, Number 6

Dolan Foster Enterprises Thrives Through Four Decades of Change in Restaurant Business

Richard Lowe and Randy Rodrigues help oversee a total of 67 different
Taco Bell restaurants in Northern California.

By Scott Eldredge
Special to NETWORK

Randy Rodrigues and Paul Luce, owners of Dolan Foster Enterprises, have made meeting the unending challenges of the restaurant business a way of life. The company owns and operates 67 Taco Bell restaurants in the Bay Area, including some in Santa Cruz and Tracy.

Dolan and Dorothy Foster started the company in the late sixties with a single restaurant in Oakland. Under their guidance the company grew to 70 restaurants served from an office/warehouse distribution center in Hayward. It became one of the largest franchised Taco Bell companies in the nation.

Dolan Foster died in 1997, and Dorothy ran the business for a few years. When she decided to leave, she gave Rodrigues and Luce, both long-time employees, the opportunity to buy it. Rodrigues worked for Dolan Foster at the first restaurant in Oakland, and in September 2000, Rodrigues and Luce acquired Dolan Foster Enterprises.

Last year they sold the distribution operation so they could focus more strongly on the restaurants. After the sale, they had too much office space, and they relocated to Hacienda. Fifteen permanent staff work out of the Pleasanton headquarters at 5635 W. Las Positas Blvd., with another fifteen area supervisors and regional managers coming and going on a regular basis. They have 1,200 employees working in the restaurants.

Running 67 restaurants is a challenge, but not an unwelcome one for Rodrigues and Luce. Operating a chain of known restaurants doesn't mean standing still. They are constantly working on what they need to do to satisfy their customers, which they are more likely to refer to as their guests.

"There's something new every day, but it's a lot of fun," says Luce. "The restaurant business is always a challenge. Like in any business, change is the number one thing; you have to change with the expectation, desire, and concerns of the consumer and your guests, and certainly the competition."

There is a constant evaluation and testing of all aspects of the business, certainly including food (more grilled, new flavor combinations), but also the facilities themselves.

The company recently remodeled four restaurants in Concord, Brentwood, Santa Cruz, and Union City with brighter colors, different textures, and a more contemporary, edgier style. Indications are that their guests like it, and more remodels are planned.

After four decades of getting where it is, Dolan Foster Enterprises doesn't plan to stay there long. Change is life in the restaurant business.

"Us being here," says Rodrigues, "is really because of, from the start, how Dolan and Dorothy positioned the business to grow, and gave us the opportunity to not only participate but eventually buy the business. Our pride and joy is our restaurants and our people, working to please the customer. It's a very very competitive market, and you have to be on your best game every day. We think we do a pretty good job out there."


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