F-M grad cooks up new restaurant in Maryland

Have you ever dreamed of opening your own business and turning it into a chain or franchise? David McCabe has, and he's been finding out just what it takes to get the ball rolling as an accomplished restaurateur. McCabe, a 2000 Fayetteville-Manlius High School graduate, is on his way to creating what he hopes will become a national hit with Punk's Backyard Grill.

"The idea behind the restaurant, the classic American backyard cookout, is something that people are very familiar with and we've gotten an overwhelmingly positive response," said McCabe. "People are excited about seeing an idea they know and love incorporated into a restaurant setting."

After obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in history at the University of New Hampshire, McCabe went on to pursue a master's in management in hospitality degree at the Hotel School at Cornell University. There he met Punk's two other founders: Jeffrey Sloan and Sheila Laderberg.

"I met great partners at the Hotel School," McCabe said. "We came up with [this] concept that we felt had huge potential and that didn't currently exist. Having the three of us who were all on the same page and all with the same entrepreneurial drive really contributed to the decision."

Their resolve to explore budding business strategies led McCabe, Sloan and Laderberg to set aside other job opportunities in order to focus on the promise of Punk's, to be launched in Annapolis, Md. sometime next year. Their hopes are to eventually "grill" in numerous backyards.

"We feel this concept is one that can be placed in many different locations across the Washington D.C. region and across the country," McCabe said. "The potential to grow this company from a one-unit restaurant to a multi-unit regional and eventually national chain is really exciting."

And also a great challenge, he added.

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