Cain's right at home in Philly

Herman Cain (above, from left) is now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Given the low approval ratings of President Obama (left), voters may view Cain as an opportunity to change their fortunes without losing their black president.
Herman Cain (above, from left) is now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Given the low approval ratings of President Obama (left), voters may view Cain as an opportunity to change their fortunes without losing their black president. (Photos: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: November 04, 2011

LONG BEFORE the debates, the campaign stops and the relentless media scrutiny, Herman Cain was just a regular guy who called the Philadelphia region home.

Cain spent a chunk of the 1980s living in Moorestown, N.J., while he ran several hundred Philly-area Burger Kings for Pillsbury, then-owner of the "Home of the Whopper."

He didn't respond to recent requests from the Daily News to discuss his memories of living and working in the Delaware Valley, but it's a topic he's spoken about before.

Cain, 65, began working for Pillsbury in the late '70s, following a successful run at Coca-Cola, where he worked as a computer-systems analyst. He moved up the ladder quickly at Pillsbury, where he was named a regional vice president of Burger King in 1982.

He was soon handed the reins of Burger King's Philadelphia region, which consisted of 450 poorly performing stores, according to his website, www.hermancain.com.

Within three years, Cain - known for an engaging, hands-on managerial style - turned the Philly-area stores into Burger King's best-performing region.

Last month, Cain told Inquirer columnist Michael Smerconish that "the reason I did well in running Burger Kings in Philadelphia is that I treated people like people."

His success at Burger King led Pillsbury to name him the president and CEO of another floundering property, Godfather's Pizza.

In little more than a year, Cain also turned around that company - which had been inching toward bankruptcy.

He moved on over the years to other jobs, but apparently kept a soft spot in his heart for Philly.

He returned to the city this year after accepting an invitation to address a July 4 rally hosted by the Independence Hall Tea Party Association.

Cain instantly won over the crowd of tea-party members who had gathered in front of Independence Hall to listen to the presidential hopeful riff on his aspirations.

"There was an excitement around him because he connects so well with average people," said Don Adams, a co-founder of the local tea-party group.

"He came off as very warm and genuine. He'll always be a favorite to us."

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