Don passed away in the early morning of December 11, 2016.
I've established this site for friends, family and business associates to share their support, prayers and stories.
Donald George De Laria, was born in Minneapolis, MN on March 5th 1943 to Don & Helen Samuelson. He became a fixture at Camp Lincoln and later and accomplished inland sailor of C-boats. He married my mom, Linda De Laria in 1970, had together had one son (me) in 1971.
As the son of an serial entrepreneur he worked in a number of the family businesses which included mini golf and restaurants, among others. I imagine that while his cousins, friends and business associates will have many stories to share. As his son, I've been told that his mother and father started a Delicatessen aptly named De Laria's in the Southdale Mall, the first air conditioned mall in the country. Over the years, De Laria's became on of the iconic restaurants in Minneapolis, on par with Murray's & the Lincoln Dell. Good food and and a tenured waitstaff meant that no customer was ever a stranger. After many years operating the De Laria's restaurant my dad embarked on a new adventure. Around that time, a man named Colonel Sanders began enjoying some notoriety for a pressure cooked chicken product he was peddling. As nearly everyone in the World knows, his tasty original recipe chicken eventually became known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Don and his father heard about the long lines customers endured to get a taste of the Colonel's chicken. They traveled to Chicago where the Colonel was opening a KFC store and waited in a line that stretched for 3 blocks. When they approached the counter they were greeted by the Colonel and asked about how they might get a franchise. The Colonel asked them into the kitchen where they helped prepare Finger-Lickn Good chicken, well into the evening. At the end of the day they found themselves sitting around a small table with the Colonel and he said, "We'll, I can see you know what your doing." He reached into his bag and pulled out a franchise agreement and signed it right there and then. With that stroke of the pen, Don and his father became the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisees in Minnesota, bringing pressure cooked chicken initially to their De Laria's restaurant and then opening the first free-standing KFC in Minneapolis, at 25th and Hennepin Avenue. While good fortune eventually resulted in owning and operating eight KFC restaurants, he presently operates one KFC store on Wayzata Blvd. in Wayzata, MN. He is presently one of the longest tenured KFC franchisees in the system with nearly 60 years of experience.
As his son, I fondly remember sailing all five of the Great Lakes on our Pearson 10M with he and my Mom, winter and spring vacations in Aspen, CO and father-son fishing trips to Alaska, Ogoki and Molson Lodge. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to add as the days go on but I'll leave it there for now.