J.J. Villafranca is no stranger to challenging work. This Vietnam veteran was aboard the very first aircraft carrier converted to a nuclear warship. With a degree in science, J.J. followed up six years in the Navy with seven in the oilfield. Today, he’s the grease that makes the wheels run smoothly behind MSK Enterprises, the parent company of local favorite, Dekker’s Mesquite Grill in Fulshear.
“After the oilfield,” says J.J., “I went back to UTSA with an eye on a business degree and a part-time job at TGI Fridays. It was different than anything I had ever done. I really enjoyed the constant interaction with other employees and the public…and my thoughts on the future started to change. I became the GM of that Fridays while still in college, and eventually opened four additional restaurants for the franchisee.”
And J.J.’s future shaped itself from there. He hooked up with Carl’s Jr., a job that moved him to California and made him area supervisor of eight restaurants. “I really feel that each piece of my life was training me for my current job,” says J.J. “Fridays gave me full-service experience, and Carl’s Jr. provided me with both fast food experience and multi-unit experience.” He moved back to Texas when a multi-concept opportunity presented itself, and ultimately landed a position in Dallas as Director of Operations for five stores and two concepts–an operation that grew to 199 stores and 6 concepts with J.J.
“I knew of Mike Knobelock (owner of Dekker’s) through work,” says J.J. “Mike had two concepts and 19 stores, and was looking for someone to help fulfill their vision of expansion and different concepts.”
And that began J.J.’s life in Richmond, TX. Today he’s COO and Vice President of MSK Enterprises–that’s 45 Church’s Chicken’s, 21 Little Caesar’s, two Captain D’s, three Sears Appliance stores, and their own concept…our delicious Dekker’s. “Working with Mike and his wife Patty has been a terrific experience,” says J.J. “They are my extended family. Mike, myself and our CFO Brian work as a team to decide the best options for all involved. The work is challenging…we have over 1300 employees, and every decision we make affects these folks. But it’s a great feeling when you know you are doing right by so many people.”
J.J., his wife Elizabeth, and daughters Jaqueline and Jolie enjoy travelling and participating in our community. “Jaqueline loves parades,” says J.J. “Many of you probably caught her on the 4th of July in Fulshear riding with the Valley Forge Trail Riders and Dekker’s. This is home for us. I grew up in Laredo and I’ve been around the world. But my heart is in Texas…and the small town atmosphere here is just what I want for Jaqueline and Jolie. I’m right where I’m supposed to be!”
Mike always says, “There’s nothing better than friends and family bonding over fabulous food.” And with the new expansion at Dekker’s–including additional seating, another bar and fireplace, and party accommodations for up to 60–it’s better than ever! Make your reservations today for any day of the week!