A law degree has been a lifesaver for entrepreneur David “Alan” Bubbus Jr., who continues to make his mark on the central Arkansas restaurant scene as president of David’s Burgers, an expanding burger franchise with 10 locations.
The idea that he would one day own a restaurant franchise would have been comical to Bubbus, a 2015 graduate of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, 15 years ago. As the son of David Bubbus Sr., an Arkansas businessman who opened dozens of restaurants, Bubbus swore that he would not have a career in the restaurant business.
After working several years in the banking industry, Bubbus came across an old Fazoli’s restaurant building for sale that caught his eye. He knew he had found the perfect opportunity to open his first restaurant and enter the real estate business. Bubbus was excited for the opportunity to create the right kind of workplace culture that his employees and guests would love.
And the workplace culture that Bubbus wanted to build is evident in the warm, friendly greetings from employees, the lovely free samples of delicious ice cream and treats, and the distinct lack of trash cans that ensure a full-service experience for David’s Burgers “guests.”
Bubbus’ family is still just as involved as they were at the beginning.
“One of the most fun things is working with my dad. He loves walking around and talking with our guests, and he likes making food that is really good and has a wow factor. Working with your family can be the most challenging and the most rewarding experiences, but it’s been great to get to know my father better,” Bubbus said. “It’s fun to see your dad really respect you, and that’s something that I will cherish. I see it in his eyes that he respects me.”
Alan Bubbus and his wife, Jessica, are now the proud parents of six boys. Their oldest son, Joshua, a 19-year-old sophomore who is studying accounting at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, worked at David’s Burgers before the couple “spiritually” adopted him as their child after he came to live with them as a teenager. They also adopted Evan, 12, and Ethan, 11, who are biological brothers, after working with The Call, a nonprofit organization that works with foster and adoptive parents in Arkansas. They also have David, 8, Moses, 3, and baby Abraham, 9 months. The restaurant business is still largely a family affair.
“You might recognize Moses as the cute kid with curls on David’s Burgers commercials,” Bubbus said. “Even my wife, who is an accountant, would rather dress burgers than work in the office.”
Bubbus, who serves on the board of The Call, hopes people will participate in the Walk for the Waiting on May 4, which raises money for three organizations (The Call, Immerse, and Project Zero) with the goal of helping foster children in Arkansas.
“Foster parents can provide a critical need in a child’s life when there is so much uncertainty and fear,” Bubbus said. “Fostering children has been such an important part of my life, and I hope people will get out and support this amazing cause.”
Finishing law school, while being an entrepreneur, a family man, and real estate company owner, wasn’t always easy. Still, Bubbus found pursuing a law degree well worth the time, commitment, and effort. Bubbus is also grateful for the part-time program, which allowed him to fit law school into his busy life and complete the degree at his own pace.
“I think there are times in your life when you tell yourself you are going to buckle down. You set your mind to it and just do it. For me, it was those five years I was in law school,” Bubbus said. “I enjoyed being in the classroom and the analysis. I found it extremely interesting, and I always learned a lot. You don’t open 10 restaurants and have six children in eight years and have time for everything. I think you set reasonable goals depending on how much you have going on in your life.”
His education from Bowen has given Bubbus a great advantage as an entrepreneur and business owner, but being an entrepreneur is not as easy it looks on television.
“It’s not as easy as ‘Shark Tank’ makes it seem,” Bubbus said. “Being an entrepreneur means knowing people and knowing your business. There are a lot of traps you can fall into if you are not educated. Law school provides a broad-based set of information that helps entrepreneurs get started in business. What if someone slips and falls in your restaurant and gets hurt? Law school helped me understand the risks that come with owning a business and all the rules and regulations of human resources. I could go on and on about every facet of my business and how much having a legal background helps you understand the risks you are taking and knowing what to avoid. Having a legal education gives you a great advantage in knowing how to protect yourself.”
The most important skill Bubbus learned from Bowen is how to think like a lawyer, which prepares him to face the most unexpected challenges.
“The most important thing I learned from Bowen is not the knowledge of the facts, but how law school help molds you and trains your mind to think like a lawyer,” Bubbus said. “The analysis and tools that you gain help you become a better entrepreneur. You don’t need a lawyer if everything goes right. You need a lawyer for the one in a 1,000 times when something goes wrong. That is when a legal education does a lot for you. Bowen can help entrepreneurs grow in their analysis of problems and how to solve them, in the ability of the entrepreneur to speak publicly, and, most importantly, give the entrepreneur greater confidence to invest in themselves. Bowen can help entrepreneurs grow in their analysis of problems and how to solve them, in the ability of the entrepreneur to speak publicly, and, most importantly, give the entrepreneur greater confidence to invest in themselves.”