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David Potter Webb once ran one of the largest restaurant companies in the Twin Cities, operating alongside his brother an eclectic mix of eateries that got winning reviews from critics and patrons alike.

But for the noted entrepreneur, the most enjoyable part of his job was interacting with those who dined and worked at the restaurants.

"This was his heart and soul," said Webb's son David Potter Townsend Webb. "He loved it. A large part of that was when he served people and saw that he was making them happy ... that meant a lot to him."

Webb, of Edina, died Aug. 2 from an aggressive form of cancer. He was 66.

Webb owned and operated the Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley, and previously owned restaurants that included Rupert's, Cocolezzone, American Cafe, Winfield Potter's, Original Pancake House, My Pie Pizza and Coco Cha Cha.

The Austin, Minn., native, however, didn't start his career in the restaurant business. After earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and a master's degree in business administration from Purdue University in 1971, Webb became a financial analyst with Exxon in New York. He traded commodities on the side and ended up enjoying it so much that he went to work for Cargill as a commodities trader in Chicago in 1974.

In the Windy City, Webb's career took a turn after he stumbled upon a pizza restaurant called My Pie Pizza. "He loved the taste of it, how the restaurant worked, and he said [to the owner] why don't you let me bring one of these to Minnesota?" said David.

Webb did just that, buying a My Pie Pizza franchise for Golden Valley in 1974. By the mid- to late '80s, Webb and his brother Rick's properties included American Cafe, CocoLezzone and Rupert's nightclub, which were in the same complex in Golden Valley.

In Edina, the two brothers opened the Original Pancake House in the late '70s, and not long after, Winfield Potter's in Minneapolis.

Around 1990, amid the disruption caused by the construction of Interstate 394, Rupert's and American Cafe closed. CocoLezzone, which featured wood-fired pizzas, was shuttered as well but was later converted into a new restaurant, Coco Cha Cha, which offered a mix of Italian and Mediterranean fare.

Webb owned and operated most of the eateries and restaurants with his brother. They eventually parted ways, closing or selling the properties.

In 2007, he opened and helped manage the Good Day Cafe. His son David, who also helps manage the eatery, said his father loved that his restaurants were social gathering spots for the local community.

"He got a lot of fulfillment out of it, just seeing customers' reaction to the food and working and interacting with the staff -- that familial feel to the restaurant was a big deal with him," David Webb said.

Besides David, Webb is survived another son, Michael Webb; mother, Helen Webb; sister, Marti Webb; and brother, Rick Webb.

A memorial service for Webb was held Monday at the Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley.

Rose French • 612-673-4352