ALBANY — While many business owners might stop with two or three successful business ventures, that’s just not the case for Bo Henry and Stewart Campbell, owners of Stewbo’s.
In addition to their well-established Harvest Moon, The Catch Seafood Room, Henry Campbell’s Steakhouse, Merry Acres Inn, Manor House Pub, Shackelford House and event catering business, they’ve now taken on another restaurant, a franchise this time.
“I’m extremely ADD, and I love having a million things going on,” Campbell said. “That’s just how my mind works. The only problem is I don’t always complete things. I love just a lot of things going on. It energizes me, so when the opportunity is there, you just have to take advantage of it.”
The new business, a fast casual place called Guthrie’s, is located on Dawson Road, right beside Homerun Foods.
The franchise was originally started in 1965 and served a variety of foods in the beginning, everything from hamburgers to fish to barbecue and more. But Guthrie’s started serving it’s signature chicken tenders in 1978 and pared the menu down to only the chicken tenders in the ’80s.
The signature chicken tenders and sauce went on to become the inspiration for two other chains — Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s.
Campbell said it was partly the simple menu, of essentially only chicken tenders, fries, slaw and toast, that attracted him and Henry to Guthrie’s rather than another franchise.
“It’s not as many moving parts as opposed to some other franchises, and (it has) a recognizable name that Bo and I knew from eating at the one in Athens and the one in Auburn,” Campbell said.
Henry added that the quality of the product was another aspect in choosing Guthrie’s.
“They have a quality product,” Henry said. “They do one thing, but they do it great.”
Campbell explained that none of the chicken is ever frozen, and staff also doesn’t use warmers with the chicken. Everything is fresh and cooked to order.
The Stewbo’s principles said once they started the process of getting the franchise, they saw another added bonus to Guthrie’s.
“They’re a very supportive franchise,” Henry said. “From the get-go, we talked to one of the Guthries, (it’s) a family-owned company still. They’re very accessible.
“Their help has been unbelievable. They show you the ropes and show you what to do and give you your base, and then once they’ve taught us, now it’s our job to carry it out.”
“We can pick up the phone, and we can call Paul Guthrie or Joe (Guthrie),” Campbell said. “Every day we’re talking to them. It’s wonderful to have that support, where Bo and I have always had to (just) talk to each other.”
And with that support came another added bonus, the restaurateurs said. The training the guys underwent to own the franchise helped them learn tools that could be used in their other businesses, with both of them saying that they felt they had benefited from learning about Guthrie’s efficiency.
“I think anything like this that we get involved in, anything new, we always learn new stuff and that helps us in all of our businesses,” Henry said. “If we’re not learning and getting better in all of our places, we’re not growing as a company either. Just having another business doesn’t mean you’re growing, so I fell like this one has been a real good one for us to learn from and to try to implement some of the same things from here into our other places.”
Both Henry and Campbell maintain that they would not be able to balance all of their different businesses without their staff.
“You’re only as good as your staff,” Henry said. “We depend on a lot of them, and we have some really good ones. That’s the way we do it; we cannot do it all ourselves. We would only have one (business).”
Right at a month since the restaurant officially opened, they both say that the response has been wonderful.
“We’ve had great support,” Henry said. “I think everybody is always looking for something different, and people like variety.”
And while the new venture might not have the space or ambiance of their other restaurants, the tender, “original” chicken tenders and sauce is, as they say, a quality product.
“It’s still a nice environment, but you’re not sitting here for the ambiance, you’re not coming here for your anniversary,” Campbell said. “You’re coming here to feed your belly with great chicken.”
Guthries, located at 2307 Dawson Road, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We look forward to serving the Albany area with food here for a long time,” Henry said.