Lee’s Famous Recipe, Chuck Doran and DaRon Holmes II

New Member Reading

Dean Lundgren, sponsored by Patrick Arehart, had his second reading at tonight’s meeting.

Committee Meetings

  • 6/15/2022, 6 PM, Tom Frazier Tee Off for Youth Golf Classic 2022. Meetings in 2022 will be on Wednesdays on 1/26, 2/16, 3/16, 4/20, 5/18, 6/15, 7/13. Additional golf committee members and volunteers are always welcome. The event will be held on 7/18/2022.

Community Events

  • 6/4/2022, 8 AM to 12:30 PM, Fishing Derby at RecPlex. To volunteer use the member calendar here.
  • 6/6/2022, All Day, Junior Golf Tournament, Volunteers are needed, contact Jerry Stahley and/or use the member calendar here.
  • 7/18/2022, All Day, the 30th year of the Tom Frazier Tee Off for Youth Golf Classic will be held on 7/18/2022.  To volunteer use the member calendar here.


  • Tom Novak announced that Avenue of Flags needs volunteers to deliver flags. They especially need flag friendly vehicles like trucks and mini vans. There are 83 flag delivery routes for 2022.
  • Gary Hansen announced that we need several volunteers to help re-assemble the CNO Americana float for the parade this year.
  • Gary Hansen announced he is looking for chairs, committee members and volunteers for the following events:
    • Big 6 Gaming Table at Party in the Park (June 10, July 15). Contact Mitch Bodenmiller or Debe Dockins
    • CHS Handouts Booth at Party in the Park (June 10, July 15)

CNO 2.0 Venue and Details

The venue for tonight’s CNO 2.0 meeting was Cooper’s Hawk restaurant.

Brent Richburg won the 50/50 drawing. As always, the other half of the 50/50 is donated to the Optimist International Foundation.

Jesse Gaither said he was so thankful for all the guests and members that came to tonight’s meeting. He also gave a recap of what our club is all about and that information is at the bottom of this article.

Lee’s Famous Recipe, Chuck Doran

Jesse Gaither introduced Chuck Doran, the partner/owner of all 13 Miami Valley Lee’s Famous Restaurants. His partner, Ken Riddle, was also at tonight’s meeting. In 2014, their company, Far Hills Development LLC, the operator of one Lee’s and Arby’s combination restaurant, bought the remaining 12 Dayton-area Lee’s Famous Recipe locations. Of the 13 restaurants, one is a dual concept Lee’s – Arby’s. They also operate Far Hills Catering.

Far Hills Catering has benefited from the ownership of the Lee’s and Arby’s restaurants because they have access to quality food and are buying in bulk. This makes their catering business very competitive in the Miami Valley market. The entire company buys about $16 million / year of food versus $1 million / year for a typical area catering business.

The catering business has seen recent substantial growth as families, schools, churches, and businesses have found value having them cater weddings, parties and business events.

Chuck Doran’s Journey

Doran grew up as an U.S. Air Force brat. He is a graduate from Wayne High School and the University of Dayton.

After college he worked for GZK which, at the time, owned all the Miami Valley area Arby’s, Lee’s Famous Recipe’s and Burger Chefs. He rose through the ranks eventually becoming the Operations Manager of the Roast Beef division.

In 1998 he left GZK because working 70 hours a week was not very “Dad” friendly.

Next, he went to work at Midwest Micro, which sold computers built under the Infotel brand. They are also the company that supplied CompUSA its computers.

Infotel eventually shut down and then he started Far Hills Catering LLC.

In 2014, Doran’s friend (and soon to be partner) Ken Riddle, an accountant, asked if he would be interested in buying all the Lee’s Famous Recipe restaurants in the Miami Valley. Eventually Doran agreed and he used his life’s savings to make the deal happen.

Miami Valley Lee’s Restaurants History and Building Conditions

In 1998 in the Miami Valley there were 24 Lee’s Famous Recipe restaurants. In 2011 Doran and Riddle bought the 11 remaining stores. The brand was being neglected. GZK put a lot more effort into the Arby’s stores. In 2014, the Lee’s stores were not even computerized. They had not been painted in 12 years. Employees received raises only when the minimum wage increased.

Improving the Restaurants

Far Hills Development LLC reinvested in the business and people. They added 2 people to the lunch shift at every location. This helped build back the lunch business. The previous company tried to reduce costs by lowering the number of lunch employees, but the reality is if you don’t have enough employees to cover the rush then the number of customers will decrease. They also increased efforts in the catering businesses. They painted the restaurants, repaired the driveways and increased the marketing budget to reintroduce the brand to the Miami Valley. Additionally, they replaced the 1992 cash registers with modern, computerized Point of Sale Systems.

Technology Works

When Covid restrictions kicked in during March of 2020, restaurants with drive throughs became very popular and successful. The first month of the lockdown was bad, but by the second month it got really good. Doran had concerns about what would happen when dining rooms opened again. He knew that competitors were going to recruit his employees.

Doran invested in an AI based order taking system for the drive throughs. It is amazing. He typically isn’t an early adopter, but knew he needed to try something.

A team from Israel spent 10 weeks setting up the system. The timing worked out because after he saw the demonstration of the system, the lockdown occurred and the team couldn’t return to Israel, so they had time to dedicate to Lee’s. The technology allowed them to keep up with all the extra demand since dining room only restaurants were closed.

The AI system is 97% accurate which is better than a human. Additionally, the computer is making more in sales. Human order takers don’t like suggesting if a customer would like an apple pie for dessert, but the computer does not have this problem and the suggestions work.

DaRon Holmes II, NIL and Flyin’ to the Hoop.

A NIL or name image and likeness relationship is a way for college players to be compensated for how they help a business. This is a recent opportunity afforded to players by the NCAA. DaRon has an NIL with Far Hills Development, LLC to represent the Lee’s Famous Recipe brand in the Miami Valley.

Far Hills Development is very involved with the annual Flyin’ to the Hoop event which holds a national High School tournament at Trent Arena. Doran knew that Holmes II, the 37th high school player in the nation, was playing in the tournament in 2021 and had committed to the University of Dayton. He was very impressed with Homes II and used Instagram to find him and ask if he would be interested in a NIL deal. As a graduate of UD, Doran is a super fan.

This is a link to a previous CNOtes article about Flyin’ to the Hoop.

Marketing at UD Flyer Basketball Games

During the first half of every UD Flyer basketball game at the 8-minute mark, 20 boxes of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken are given away. This tradition has been going on for a long time and started before Doran purchased the restaurants.

After Far Hills Development, LLC purchased the rest of the area stores, they wanted to step up the relationship with UD. The new idea is if the visiting team misses 6 or more free throws in a game, everyone at the game gets free chicken. It works great! The fans get really into it as it gets close to the 6th miss and start chanting “Free Chicken!, Free Chicken!, Free Chicken!” The student section goes nuts and makes it very distracting for the visiting team to make their free throws. In the second half of a game the visiting team is facing the student section.

Employment Recruitment

The NIL relationship with DaRon Holmes II, besides increasing sales, has also helped with recruiting employees for Doran’s restaurants. Most employers competing for the same employees are just putting up typical help wanted signs and offering signing bonuses. Far Hills Development, LLC likes to do better and created a recruitment video with the band Nightbeast. They received 70 employment applications from this video.

They still have issues with recruiting employees, but it could be much worse. An example of worse is a nearby brand-new Burger King that was shut down recently because of the lack of employees.

Far Hills Development LLC values their crews. They have 270 employees, but they could use 290. During the pandemic they dropped 20% to a low of 210. This made the work difficult. The AI based drive through ordering system has really helped. Employees are more efficient because they are not distracted having to multitask with the drive through headset.

Giving Back to the Community

Far Hills Development LLC values its community. One example is that they help high schools raise money by providing them coupon books they can sell at a profit.

DaRon Holmes II Spoke

Chuck Doran introduced DaRon Holmes II, who just finished his freshman year at UD and was a star on the Flyers basketball team. He went to high school in Arizona.

Holmes II said that having a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) contract is not about chasing the money, it is about building great relationships. He represents UD to the best of his ability. He likes to focus on the word “image” from NIL and works on having a good community image. He is really enjoying the community of Dayton. Dayton fans are the best!

Playing for UD and Coach Grant

A large part of why Holmes II chose UD is because of the type of game that Coach Anthony Grant plays. It is unusual for freshmen to get much playing time. Not so under Coach Grant. He couldn’t believe it. It was a huge transition playing in college versus high school, but by listening to the coach you learn and adapt. The atmosphere under Coach Grant is just amazing. This is a link to a previous CNOtes article about Coach Grant,

Future Plans

Holmes II just finished his freshman year and he was the number one freshman player. He plans to major in media communications, but he may switch to a business major.

His hope is to play for the NBA, but he is fine if he ends up going overseas to play professionally.

Besides playing professional basketball, he would like to start a podcast and talk about things happening in the world. He also would like to start an agency to help young athletes go pro.

About DaRon Holmes II

The UD Flyers website has a great page about DaRon Holmes II that includes his Bio and Statistics.

Some of the Bio Information about Holmes II from the Website for 2021-22

  • The highest-ranked high school recruit to ever sign with the Flyers.  A four-star prospect, he was a consensus top 50 recruit
  • Started all 35 games while leading the team in minutes
  • Led the team in scoring at 12.8 ppg off 65% shooting
  • Finished the season averaging 20 ppg in the final five games.

Thank You Chuck Doran and DaRon Holmes II

Thank you, Chuck Doran and DaRon Holmes II, for speaking at tonight’s CNO 2.0 meeting.

About CNO 2.0

CNO 2.0 is a club within a club of the Centerville Noon Optimist Club. CNO (and CNO 2.0) is a world class service organization. Being a member of either club allows their members all the same opportunities to participate in fundraising and club activities. CNO 2.0 was created about 5 years ago and is very much a part of the 54-year-old Centerville Noon Optimist Club. CNO has given away over $2 million during its history. CNO is a group of like-minded members that are passionate about helping youth and having fun in the process.

The speaker at each 2.0 meeting is someone with a local business success story.

Annual Fundraisers

  • Christmas Tree Lot
  • Avenue of Flags
  • Golf Outing

Major Activities for the youth in our community

  • Build-a-Bear at Children’s Hospital, 3 times a year
  • Fishing Derby in June
  • Kid’s day in the park in August
  • Easter Egg Hunt
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