In 2014, Ahmed Mahfouz moved with his family from the Middle East to Minnesota to pursue the American Dream. The family acquired a fast-food restaurant, D&J Fish & Chicken, in Minneapolis. Although the path to successful entrepreneurship for immigrants is littered with obstacles, the Mahfouzes ran the restaurant well, and expansion was the natural next step. Mahfouz bought into the Wayback Burgers franchise in 2019. The new restaurant would be located in the same neighborhood as D&J. However, being a franchisee can be challenging because of the strict rules and procedures mandated by the franchisor.
Add to that the COVID-19 pandemic, and small businesses are struggling more than ever. COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional ways that business is conducted, resulting in an economic hit that can force many small businesses to permanently close.
In June 2020, Mahfouz sat in his Minneapolis suburban home’s back porch and reminisced about his life since he arrived in the United States six years ago. He was proud of what he had accomplished, but was uncertain about the future. How can his businesses survive the impact of a global pandemic?