PEABODY — They sell terrific Fried Chicken and french fries, but the owners of the newly opened Walloon’s Fried Chicken on Route 1 in Peabody are providing an extra service — they’re role models for young people hoping to establish themselves in the Business world.
On a recent night, Sean Clarke and Max Runge played host to seven high school and middle schoolers participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA.
The academy, sponsored by the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, is a 30-week after-school program where teens zero in on a business idea, develop it and present it to a group of potential investors. The latter step is an echo of TV’s “Shark Tank,” and like the broadcast, there is real money and real business involved.
Most of this year’s eight enrolled students come from Peabody, but others are from Lynnfield and Andover.
Part of the YEA program, which began at the University of Rochester in 2004, includes field trips, explained chamber director Deanne Healey. That brought the group to Walloons one night.
The fast Food restaurant opened in November. Clarke and Runge are business majors with degrees from the University of Rhode Island. They’ve developed their business plan in stages, first operating a food truck in downtown Boston.
“We choose an easy business to start,” Clarke explained.
On a tour of their Route 1 location — formerly a Dunkin’ Donuts and then briefly a drive-through healthy food eatery — Runge stressed, “You’ve got to work really, really hard. You’ve got to earn the customers.”
Clarke pointed to the oven, explaining the chicken must be tenderized to consistently produce tasty, moist white meat for sandwiches and tenders. Biscuits are made on the premises. The French fries are treated with special care. For that matter, the name Walloon’s is a bow to the belief fries originated among French speakers in Belgium. (By rights you should be calling them Belgian fries.)
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