From free throws to fryers: How a life in basketball has helped John Laskowski in the restaurant industry

A man named John walks around his Culver’s restaurant. He’s the owner. He greets “the regulars,” cleans tables, and asks customers if they want refills. Seems like extra good service for any restaurant, especially since it’s provided by the owner. You never would have guessed that he played professional basketball.

Meet John Laskowski; the hooper turned entrepreneur.

Laskowski was a part of a legendary Indiana Hoosiers squad in college. His 1975 squad lost on game all season, a team Coach Bob Knight still believes is the best he ever coached (even better than the undefeated ‘76 Hoosiers.) He spent two seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls before entering a legendary 33-year tenure broadcasting Hoosier basketball, while simultaneously pursuing business interests. 

Speaking of business interests, he opened the Culver’s franchise in Bloomington in November of 2018. He spent four years preparing for the opening. 

The store broke company-wide sales records on each of its first two days.

His success was due in no small part to both the lessons he learned both on the court and on the microphone. He says that announcing essentially “cured” his shyness, making it much easier to interact with the fans and customers who dine in his restaurant, an activity you rarely see him miss. 

His time as a player taught him just as important of lessons. He attributes his values of hard work and discipline to those instilled in him by Coach Knight in his playing days. Knight taught him to always be timely, treat people kindly, and put forth your best effort just as your teammates do, values that help him run his store today.

Laskowski does not have to walk around, or talk to his customers, or to display his game-worn jersey, or to sign autographs. He doesn’t even have to run the restaurant. He does it all because he loves it and it allows him to work alongside his son, Scott. He believes in doing what you love while you still can. Laskowski said, “Whatever [you] do, you have to develop a passion for what it is.”

And whether it was playing basketball, talking basketball, or running a restaurant, he has certainly fulfilled that montra of his.