Lincoln Carry Outs has been in Scott Underwood’s family for over 40 years, and is well known for great subs and lunch options throughout Crown Point. It was a pleasure chatting with him as I learned more about his dedicated work ethic and commitment to his team’s satisfaction.

LOCAL219: Whether it be passions, childhood circumstances, or hobbies, what do you feel has most led you to this position?

Scott Underwood: So, I was kind of put in this situation because my dad got us into this business in 1978 when he purchased the original Lincoln Carry Outs from a family in downtown Gary on 4th Avenue. Then through the 1980’s he had maybe four, five, or six locations that he opened. My brother still has the one in Hobart, so I was kind of groomed for this.

We hated it as teenagers, and now with my son, I’ll ask, “Hey, you want to go to work Tuesday?” and he’ll sigh, but I have a feeling he’ll end up growing to love it as well.

L219: Sounds like you were destined for this.

SU: I think so. I went to school for elementary education but decided that this might be more up my alley.

I thought, “You know what? I think I’m just gonna do it.” I didn’t love it back then but now I think it’s great.

L219: Thank goodness you grew to love it; that worked out well. Next question: what gets you out of bed in the morning?

SU: Okay, so first and foremost, not wanting to let down what my dad got us started with. So that, and then my family now, my wife and kids. I’ve tried to teach my kids that hard work gets you a lot of places. You don’t have to be good at anything as long as you’re willing to work hard and be nice; working hard can get you pretty far.

LOCAL219: I completely agree. Especially in the fast food industry and restaurants. If you stick it out for the long haul you can’t help but move up.

SU: It’s a lot of hard work. A lot went down during Covid and we remained open through the whole thing.

My brother and I were able to realize that we were working really hard, seven days a week, so my brother’s location in Hobart and mine went down to six days.

LOCAL 219: Good for you guys. You need a break.

SU: I take that day to do family things and it’s great; business is still great. We learned that we could take a day off here and there. For 20 years, and however long my brother did it for, we were doing it. All those years of [being open] seven days. We were only closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

L219: Who do you feel has had the biggest influence on your life?

SU: I would say honestly, between my dad and my brother, my older brother. He’s about 15 years older than me. Growing up it was a lot of my dad working hard. He had six locations, so he was always working. My brother kind of coached me in sports and I worked for him growing up a little bit in the business.

We opened a Valpo store for a short time together when I was right in college. Then he was like, “Hey, do you want to just do this and work with me at this one?” So we did that, then I was ready to venture off and do my own thing.

L219: How cool that he could show you the ropes.

Yeah, and now my family is everything. I have two children, a daughter who’s 23 and a son who’s 16.

L219: Do you rope them both in every once in a while to help out?

My daughter still helps out and my son helps out when he has free time in the off season. I want them to see the value of getting up and going to work every day by seeing me get up and go. My staff will tell me, “You know, you’ve never called in sick.”

I’m like, yeah, I know. I’m never going to wake up in the morning and say, ‘I’m not going to not come in today.’ I’m always here and I’ve had staff who have been here a very long time.

L219: That’s admirable. What do you feel has been the greatest lesson you have learned in this position that you feel could benefit others?

SU: Patience is the best thing I’ve learned. When I first opened my location in Crown Point, we were next to Buddy & Pals on Summit Street, and I was 24 years old.

L219: Wow, that’s young.

SU: Yeah, young, and I thought, “Man, this is gonna happen quick. We’re moving in there, we’re gonna be rich soon. It’ll be like six months, and we’re gonna make a ton of money. I’ll be able to take it easy. Yeah, we’ll be living the good life.”

L219: Ha! I think a lot of entrepreneurs come in with a similar mentality especially when they’re young.

SU: I was just 24 and so dumb, and thought, “Hey this is gonna happen quick and move so fast.”

So, we did; we did jump in and bought like a pretty big house, right away. I was like, “Man, this is hard.” That’s when I learned about patience after I learned everything else.

It took maybe until six years ago to really be killing it to the point where we felt really comfortable. Yeah, but back then I thought it was gonna happen quick, and you kind of jump the gun, you know, like trying to spend money before you get it.

I think that’s what a lot of people who start their own business think, and it’s probably why a lot of businesses don’t make it. You just have to be dedicated, work hard, and save. Don’t overspend right away, exactly. Put as much money back into the business, as you can to keep it going.

L219: I think a lot people hear entrepreneurship and they hear ‘freedom,’ but the thing about a self-made career, versus working in an established company that has systems in place, is that you have to be incredibly disciplined. I don’t think a lot of people realize that.

SU: It’s that one thing where someone says I became my own boss so I wouldn’t have to work a nine to five and now I work 24/7.

L219: What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy my customers and my staff. We have customers that we know by name. We have some that come in five times a week and we know exactly what they’re getting when they come in. We have others that change it up and get other things, but just being able to talk with them every day.

During Covid, when tragedy hit and everything was shutting down, we didn’t know how it was gonna affect us, but my staff was awesome. They came to work every day, they stayed healthy, and they really showed their dedication.

L219: A lot of companies can’t say that.

Right, and then after that there was a shortage of workers everywhere. So every place was hiring and my people stuck it out with me even when places were offering more money for typically lower-paying jobs.

We really try to take care of our people. We tried to bump them up when we could and were like, “Listen you guys, you know they’re laying people off, and we’re giving our people raises and bonuses.”

L219: I think I’ve seen a lot of businesses who started to scramble as they lost people, but it’s not about the money, it’s not about the incentives, it’s about the relationship.

Right, keep those people happy and they’ll work hard for you.

Especially when they see you come in every day doing all this work. They don’t let me run circles around here, they run with me.



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