His lack of experience hasn't mattered much, even in a business that regularly swallows up even experienced entrepreneurs with stunning frequency.
King built six restaurants in the 1970s, and by the 1980s, the number reached 21. Today, Kings Family Restaurants employs more than 3,000 people in 35 restaurants, 34 of them in Western Pennsylvania, and King shows little sign of slowing down.
He's planning to develop five Red Robin restaurants, a franchise concept based near Denver that aims at a younger customer than Kings, which caters to a large proportion of seniors. Unlike Kings, Red Robin serves alcoholic beverages. King plans to develop five Red Robins over the next five years, one by the end of this year.
King says the most enjoyable part of the business is scouting locations, and he has locked up some of the most desirable spots, many near busy highway interchanges in fast-growth areas.
In many ways, Kings has done well because of its reputation for serving largely basic comfort food in a conservative, family atmosphere. But the chain more recently has introduced some innovations in its operations. The Wexford store has added Kings Café, a feature within the remodeled restaurant that offers fresh-baked pastries and flavored coffees, and a section that provides patrons with Internet access, both designed to lure a younger, on-the-go crowd.
And Kings has been active in philanthropic activities over the years, contributing $750,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, $400,000 to the Leukemia Society and $250,000 to Children's Hospital. How to reach: Kings Family Restaurants, www.kingsfamily.com