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"Do something common uncommonly well"
Clean
August 14, 2015 01:21 PM PDT
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Dave Query started Big Red F Restaurant Group in 1993 and has turned it into a highly successful business with five concepts and soon-to-be thirteen total locations. In the five years I've been interviewing restaurant owners, Dave has always been one of my favorites. He's transparent, honest, wise, and able to articulate his beliefs and philosophies as well as anybody I've come across in the business. In this interview, Dave and I discussed everything from choosing the right types of investors, to growth, to humility, to competition. Enjoy...
"If you jump in with both feet, doors will open"
Clean
August 05, 2015 01:16 PM PDT
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Rayme Rossello is a very positive and inspiring person, who first co-owned a restaurant in 1999. That restaurant was very successful and grew to 5 locations, but Rayme sold her share of the business to her partner to try something different. After an unsuccessful partnership in a french bistro, she questioned herself and what was next, even considering going back to waiting tables. Tune in to hear her inspiring story of starting Comida with her pink taco truck in Boulder in 2010 and growing that to two successful restaurant locations and a third on the way.
"I never thought I'd open a restaurant"
Clean
May 20, 2015 12:50 PM PDT
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Van Nolintha began applying for jobs at the height of the recession after finishing both undergraduate school and graduate school. After being turned down nearly 300 times, he and his younger sister, Vanvisa, returned to his home country, Laos, to reconnect with their roots. Much of his early life centered around food, so when he returned to the U.S. to Raleigh, N.C., he decided to start a restaurant. He bought a copy of "How to Open a Restaurant for Dummies" and sent heartfelt emails to several of the most highly regarded restaurant owners in Raleigh, asking for advice and mentoring. They all agreed to help. In 2012, with little capital and lots of sweat, donations, and help from friends, Van and Vanvisa opened Bida Manda, and today it's one of the most loved restaurants in Raleigh. Of all of the stories I've heard from 5 years of interviewing restaurant owners, this is the most memorable...
"You aren't ready until you've made all of the mistakes"
Clean
May 12, 2015 11:18 AM PDT
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Brent Bushong and his partners recently opened The Velveteen Habit, a quaint farmhouse on four acres of land, tucked into a small clearing in the woods two miles from the Maine coastline. This is not your typical restaurant. The group has a Head Gardener, and plans to source most of its produce from the one-acre garden. They may eventually have their own livestock. They have a bee hive. They are very committed to providing the freshest, local food prepare simply, with a modern interpretation of the food you'd have eaten in the same farm house in 1765. Added to that, after his time as a Marine, Brent has spent the majority of his working career in restaurants, working nearly every position and learning tons of wisdom along the way. We talked about the need to marry both passion and a strong work ethic, summoning significant self confidence in the face of obstacles and doubters, the value of humility, and the importance of taking the time to make all of the mistakes you can make before you are ready to truly succeed. Enjoy...
"Be ready to get out of your comfort zone"
Clean
May 08, 2015 11:16 AM PDT
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Aaron Siegel opened the first Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ in Charleston, SC in 2006. He opened the second location in 2009. Now, six years later, Aaron and his team are opening their third location. Aaron and I talked about everything from the national exposure Fiery Ron's has received (Esquire, The Food Network, etc.) from effective use of Instagram and other social media tools, to being forced out of his comfort zone when he went from chef to owner, to the romanticization of the restaurant business, to bridging the divide between FOH and BOH, to using mistakes made by staff as training moments. Aaron is a humble guy who has built a highly popular and successful business over the last six years, and he's worth paying attention to if you plan to start your own restaurant one day...
"Stand for something"
Clean
May 05, 2015 11:44 AM PDT
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Seth Gross has been in the restaurant business for 27 years. He currently owns Bull City Burgers & Brewery as well as Pompieri Pizza, both in Durham, NC. One thing that's clear when you speak to Seth: he believes in standing for something. For instance, he only uses grass-fed beef for his burgers, and has vowed that if he ever has to resort to corn-fed beef, he will close his restaurant. He also won't use tomatoes on his burgers or pizzas during the winter months, because he can't get fresh, local tomatoes then. More examples abound in this really fun, inspiring conversation. And you'll also learn how he's been able to get customers to tattoo themselves with his logo. Enjoy....
"Getting customers vs. keeping customers"
Clean
May 04, 2015 12:05 PM PDT
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Daniel Holzman co-owns The Meatball Shop in New York. Five years in, he and partner Michael Chernow have built a wildly successful 6-location business. Daniel has been featured on ountless broadcast segments including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s TODAY Show, Chelsea Lately, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and VH1’s Big Morning Buzz. Additionally, he has been featured in an array of widely reaching local and national publications such as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, People, Food Network Magazine and GQ. But after all of that, one of the issues Daniel wanted to discuss was the difference between getting a customer to walk in your door because they have heard about you, and keeping that customer for life. We talked about all sorts of topics, but I focused a lot on the challenges of growth, remaining authentic as you expand, and why Daniel and Michael recently decided to devote 80% of their time to operations. Growth is great, but you have to solidify your foundation along the way to make that growth sustainable. This is a fantastic interview...(NOTE: The call dropped as I was thanking Daniel, but you don't miss anything important other than me nudging listeners to check out The Meatball Shop, which you should do)
"Hubris will lead to failure"
Clean
May 04, 2015 11:51 AM PDT
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Sean Degnan co-owns the very popular restaurant bu•ku in Raleigh, N.C. Five years into it, and Sean and his team are still paying close attention to their customers and flexibly making changes as they go. We discussed a wide variety of topics from finding the right business partner to finding the right landlord, but what really sticks out is Sean's humility and focus on learning from others. He has the right mindset to succeed long term in the tough restaurant business, and while he's only been an owner for five years, the wisdom he conveys is similar to what I often hear from owners who've been at it for decades. Enjoy...
"Live in fear, or live in love"
Clean
May 01, 2015 01:46 PM PDT
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Kristian Cosentino is opening Dirty Water, a highly anticipated restaurant in San Francisco. For the first time in the Restaurant Owners Uncorked podcast series, we spoke to an owner who hasn't opened his doors yet. But if you are interested in what it takes to start a restaurant, don't miss this conversation. Kristian has been planning Dirty Water for two years, and we discussed everything from overcoming doubters (and self-doubt), to why he decided to stop fulfilling other people's dreams and focus on fulfilling his own dreams, to finding the right type of landlord, to finding the right type of investors, to refining your business plan, to why it's always important to listen to your gut. This is a highly educational, fun conversation...
"You've got to anticipate problems"
Clean
March 31, 2015 09:49 AM PDT
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What do a rock band member, a bar owner, a music venue owner, and a restaurant owner have in common? Cheetie Kumar, that's what. Cheetie balances all of those things, and somehow does a great job all the way around. We spoke specifically about Garland, her restaurant, and also her newest venture. She's learned a ton in a little over a year since it opened, and we talked about everything from the difference between being a food lover (and cook) to being a restaurant owner, to the importance of good lease negotiation, to why it's crucial to be observant and anticipate problems before the arise. Cheetie is a very inspiring person, and you can't help but be inspired by her. Enjoy...

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