Third-generation brothers David, Mark and Bobby Schostak
Third-generation brothers David, Mark and Bobby Schostak

In June, Schostak Brothers & Company announced the company would mark its centennial with a community giving campaign to distribute $1 million across impactful Detroit-based nonprofits.

As documented in a 2008 JN feature story on Jerry Schostak, the beginnings of Schostak Brothers & Company Inc. are as humble as can be.

Patriarch Louis Schostak
Patriarch Louis Schostak

A long line of Schostak rabbis from the Ukraine ended in 1920 when Louis Schostak (Jerry’s father) quit rabbinical college in Cincinnati and, without any capital or experience, stuck a real-estate business sign on his lawn.

The leap of faith worked out — and led to creation of Schostak Brothers & Company.

With a footprint in Michigan for more than a century, the now fourth-generation real estate company has included development, acquisitions and leasing of retail, office, industrial, residential and mixed-use projects, both urban and suburban. Schostak’s current activities include joint ventures, build-to-suit projects, mixed-use developments and a variety of necessity-based retail and open-air centers in 16 states.

Bobby Schostak
Bobby Schostak

The Livonia-based company also has a strong presence in the food industry. Its Team Schostak Family Restaurants portfolio now includes more than 100 restaurants, such as  Applebee’s, Del Tacos, MOD Pizzas, Olga’s Kitchens and Wendy’s.

The company is currently led by the third-generation Schostak brothers, Bobby, David and Mark, who are continuing the real estate leadership tradition of their father and grandfather.

Community Giving Campaign

In June, Schostak Brothers & Company announced the company would mark its centennial with a community giving campaign to distribute $1 million across impactful Detroit-based nonprofits. Selected from a range of nonprofit sectors including neighborhoods, workforce development, education, health and entrepreneurship, the goal of the initiative is to select a range of organizations based on their work in Detroit, the city where the company was founded a century ago.

David Schostak
David Schostak

The gift recipients were carefully chosen through an extensive selection process involving employees, with the intent to help the charities complete a current project or start a new phase. It also will shine a light on each organization’s efforts to reach other potential donors. Consideration was also given to the overall impact of each gift, along with hands-on community engagement opportunities available to the Schostak team of more than 8,500 employees.

Detroit-based Life Remodeled was named the first gift recipient, receiving a $100,000 gift to kick-off the 2022 Life Remodeled Six Day Project that took place Oct. 3-8 in the community surrounding Cooley High School. Hundreds of Schostak team members were on the ground participating in the volunteer efforts to beautify the area surrounding Life Remodeled’s next opportunity hub.

Mark Schostak
Mark Schostak

In August, the Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center Inc. announced it received a $150,000 gift from Schostak Brothers & Company to launch a community doula program at CHASS Center.

In September, the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit received a $50,000 gift from Schostak Brothers & Co. The donation will help support the nonprofit’s Bed & Bread Program, which supplies the Metro Detroit area with food and shelter every day of the year.

Cass Community Social Services received a $100,000 gift from the company in early October to support the second phase of the Tiny Homes community, developed by Cass with the goal of providing affordable housing and a path to homeownership for low-income individuals and families.

The additional recipients will be announced throughout the anniversary year in coordination with each organization’s projects and initiatives.

Celebrating the Milestone

This year, 2022, actually marks Schostak Brothers & Company’s 102nd year, but the pandemic pushed back celebration efforts, including the giving campaign.

While putting their heads together on how to celebrate the milestone, the brothers decided that rather than just celebrate with a party, they could do something a little bit more reflective of their values.

“Because we’re overall a family that enjoys giving back to the community, particularly in Detroit and Michigan, we made a decision to take those same dollars we would have spent on a one-night affair and celebrate the 100th year by giving back,” said Bobby Schostak, Schostak Brothers & Company partner.

The work Life Remodeled has been doing had a particularly close connection to the Schostak family.

Life Remodeled was working in neighborhoods that were blighted and ignored, but also included public schools, such as Durfee Intermediate School, where Jerry Schostak attended classes.

It was three schools on one campus — Durfee, Roosevelt Elementary School and Central High School — that were in the heart of the Jewish community in the Schostak brothers’ parents’ generation, which made the gift even more important.

“Durfee had an investment by Life Remodeled and, when our group went over there to investigate and do their due diligence, they knew our dad had gone to Durfee and that there were some efforts by the community to do more at an additional neighborhood,” Bobby said. “That’s how we got involved on that one.”

With a rich and vibrant history connecting the Schostak family and city of Detroit, the brothers are proud to hit the century mark.

“It’s five generations now in the family, because Bob and I have grandchildren,” said David Schostak, CEO of Schostak Brothers & Company. “Five generations in the Detroit area. There’s a lot of pride and we’re very thankful for what this town has done for our family, and that’s why we’re using this opportunity to further give back to it.”

Mark Schostak, executive chairman of TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants, added, “We’re also very thankful and grateful for our team members, our employees, because we wouldn’t be here for 100 years without the people that work for us.

“We’ve had tremendous longevity and tenure among our employees. People have worked for us for 30, 35, 40 years.”

Jewish Values

As a Jewish family, celebrating 100 years by “helping others help others” means a lot to the brothers.

“Tzedakah is a very core value of being Jewish, and our father always told us that charity starts at home, and that’s why we’re investing and donating money locally here in the city of Detroit,” Mark said.

To also commemorate 100 years, the Schostak family made a contribution to another Detroit staple celebrating its centennial — the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, which is currently going through a complete renovation.

Already planning to make a contribution, the Schostak brothers increased their original contribution after taking a tour of the synagogue and seeing some of the things they’re doing to the building.

Four generations: Jeff, Mark, David, and Bobby Schostak.
Four generations: Jeff, Mark, David, and Bobby Schostak.

“Within that facility, there will also be a study area we’re going to dedicate in our father’s memory,” Bobby said. “It’ll help to continue the legacy of our family Downtown and his memory down there. I think it gives us another opportunity to build on our Jewish heritage and Jewish legacy as well as the family’s connection to Downtown.”

When their offices were Downtown, Louis and Jerry Schostak would go to the synagogue for yahrzeit, to say Kaddish and more.

“I think doing something with the Downtown Synagogue was very meaningful to us with that history,” Mark said.

For the third-generation Schostak brothers, being prepared to compromise and working on consensus decision-making have been keys to success.

“If you’re going to have a family business, it has to be run by consensus,” David said. “There’s a larger goal out there, so when you come into every discussion, it’s not about drawing a line in the sand or believing you’ve got the only answer to this thing.”

With the business today being so different from the one their grandfather and his brothers started as well as the one their father was involved in, one of the core values of the third-generation Schostak brothers is to be open-minded and flexible.

“We don’t look at it as a static business,” David said. “It continues to evolve, and if it’s going to continue to survive for the next 100 years without us, it’ll have to continue to ebb and flow and change with the times.”

Of the fourth-generation Schostak children, Bobby’s son, Jeff, currently works with David on the real estate business side.

The brothers believe what’s in store for future generations is up to them.

“We really shouldn’t be dictating to them what they want to do,” David said. “They’ve got to find things they like, things they’re passionate about, things they enjoy doing. And then I think the family needs to be there to support them in those endeavors.

“Maybe it’s the real estate business, maybe it’s the restaurant business, maybe it’s not. The success for more generations is not to try to clone ourselves, but to clone our culture and let them define it the way they want. It will be better and healthier for them to make those decisions themselves.”

Mark added, “It’s about the importance of our people and our culture. That’s first and foremost. And that’s why we’ve been so successful for so many years.”

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