Max Montoya - Still Serving Cincinnati

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

While Max Montoya was building a career out of bulldozing defenders and becoming a four-time Pro Bowl offensive guard, he was also quietly laying out the framework for a successful life outside of the game. "I was one of those guys that prepared before I retired from the NFL," said Montoya. "I always knew that sooner or later retirement was going to be there and it just so happened that it occurred much later than I thought it would. But I really prepared myself while I was playing football." "I always knew that sooner or later retirement was going to be there and it just so happened that it occurred much later than I thought it would." Montoya was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 1979 NFL Draft. He spent an entire decade with Bengals in the 1980's, playing in two Super Bowls before finishing his NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders (1990-1994). When Montoya left UCLA to enter the pros, he was just one year shy of fulfilling a degree. That, however, was fine with him because he figured the option to go back and finish up his schooling would always be there. But by the time his playing days came to a decline, Montoya had already played 16 great years in the NFL. He never thought it would last that long, but it also gave him ample time to save plenty of money, make wise long-term investments and focus on the acquisition of a restaurant franchise. "I was looking around a lot before I retired for a good franchise business and invested in different things when I played," said Montoya. Montoya eventually settled on a franchise called Penn Station East Coast Subs based out of Cincinnati. Right after retiring from football in 1994, he opened up his first store a year later in the northern Kentucky area, just south of Cincinnati. Today you'll find Montoya in one of four Penn Station East Coast Subs franchises that he runs in northern Kentucky. The franchisor started the Penn Station Restaurant chain in downtown Cincinnati in 1985 and the entire franchise itself is now made up of over 150 stores, including 39 Penn Station Restaurants in the tri-state area of Cincinnati. "It's really growing and I stay pretty busy," said Montoya. "I got in during a grassroots time and we're all doing well. I also have real estate properties that I manage so things have been good for me." Penn Station East Coast Subs is a chic, brightly designed, quick-casual restaurant chain featuring submarine sandwiches prepared in full view of the customer. It has ranked in the top 200 of Entrepreneur Magazine's Annual Franchise 500 for the last two years. "We like to call it a quick-casual type of food establishment, specializing in Philadelphia style cheese steaks, fresh cut french fries, fresh squeezed lemonade and so forth," Montoya said. "It's a good business and I enjoy working with my personnel. I'm fortunate to have some good managers and I really enjoy speaking with and interacting with our customers. It's a lot of fun because they remember the old days of the Cincinnati Bengals as being pretty decent and we have a lot of fun with that." "My part on a daily basis is developing the stores. I often go on site locations and get everything organized to operate a store. It's also about overseeing each store and I generally visit each store everyday. I usually visit during lunch hours and do some of the PR work with the customers as well." Around the same time Montoya got started in the Penn Station Restaurant business, he was also considering getting into coaching. He actually parlayed coaching directly with spending more time with his family. In 1997, Montoya became a Beechwood High School football assistant to spend more time with his son Matthew, a ninth-grader at the time and to give back to the sport that treated him so well for so long. That same year, he even passed up an offer to join the Oakland Raiders' coaching staff. His family and commitment to carry out his plans with Penn Station Restaurants took priority. "I actually coached for five years and enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "And in the process I was developing my business, spending time with my family and right now we're pretty successful business wise. It takes a lot of my time." "Coaching football was a lot of fun. I always wanted to go and give back to the kids to teach them a little bit about what I had learned in the NFL and things like techniques. High school football has great camaraderie and we had a lot of support so it was great." After spending 11 years of his NFL career in Cincinnati, Montoya grew attached to the area and has remained a very popular fixture of the Bengals franchise. No longer a coach, most of his time is spent with the restaurants and staying involved with all aspects of the Cincinnati community. "I still see a lot of former Bengals in the Cincinnati area," he said. "We all get involved in a lot of golf tournaments and charity things. It's fun to get together and talk about old war stories." When asked about the current Bengal squad, Montoya gets real fired up with excitement but that hasn't always been the case. Until last season when the Bengals won the AFC North and made it into the postseason, they hadn't produced one winning season since 1990. "It's about time," said Montoya regarding the Bengals' resurgence. "There was a very long dry spell throughout the '90's and it was pretty bad. But they're coming back. Marvin Lewis is doing great things in Cincinnati. He's got the attention of the players and they're responding. So that's made it fun." If you happen to just miss Montoya after visiting one of his Penn Station Restaurants, you can be sure to find him at Paul Brown Stadium on game days. He's still a very avid fan and rarely ever misses a game. "I've had season tickets even when I played football for the Bengals," he said. "It's awful fun to go back there and watch the guys play."

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