Former chemist buys Lido's for family, change of pace
Jim Williamson resurrected a legacy with the goal of leaving a legacy behind.
In recently becoming the fifth owner in the approximately 22-year history of Lido's Pizza and Restaurant in Carriage Place, the former chemist and project manager in the automotive industry was taking on a once-venerable establishment that had fallen into bankruptcy.
And while Williamson said last week he was definitely ready for a career change, he became a restaurant owner in part to have something to pass on to his two sons, one a 13-year-old who is already a budding entrepreneur and the other, who just turned 18 and has autism.
"This is something that he'll always be able to come to and help out, do dishes and take out the trash," Williamson said.
The journey to owning Lido's for Williamson followed 24 years as a chemist, then a project manager and finally corporate quality manager in the automobile field. He might have stuck with that, Williamson said, but the industrial base in central Ohio has been shrinking, and increasingly he was spending months at a time in Minnesota and Indiana, as well as other parts of the state.
Williamson said his special-needs son goes to an excellent facility for people with autism on the Northwest Side, so moving away to continue his career in corporate quality management wasn't in the cards.
"I decided I needed something that would keep me around home and something that's a legacy for my children," Williamson said. "When I found out about Lido's, I liked the location. It's a good traffic area, the demographics are good. Pizza's always been a fun thing for people.
"After years in heavy industry, heavy manufacturing, it's kind of a nice change of pace. That's mainly why I did that, was for my kids and just a change of pace."
Williamson said his training and background have put him in good stead in his new undertaking.
"When you think about it, chemistry is not that far from cooking," he said. "In the chemical world, we call it batch-to-batch consistency. Here, we want people to get the same quality every time they order a pizza."
Restoring the reputation of a restaurant, no matter how popular it once was, requires a good deal of effort, the owner of Lido's conceded.
"Lido's was a well-known name in this area, and bringing it back to its former standard of quality is a challenge," Williamson said. "It's not exactly a turn-key operation. But what I like about it is I've been able to help people. I have a staff and they get paid and that's helped their quality of life.
"That's what gets me up in the morning, is I like this place. Everything in the building, including the garbage, is mine. Overall that's a good feeling."
The most challenging thing so far, Williamson said, has been building a good employee base, finding people who are "invested in the success of this business rather than just a paycheck."
The name of the restaurant has an interesting history, the new owner added.
"According to the original owner, they used to have a different location and their sign was longer -- it was a longer word," Williamson said.
A windstorm came along, however, and tore the first sign apart.
"What was left was Lido's," Williamson said. "It's classic small business owner. It shows the resourcefulness ... of dealing with the crises that come up."