My First Restaurant

Bryan Tublin

Learn how to start, run, and grow a successful restaurant business. We interview successful restaurant owners about the nitty gritty details behind opening their very first restaurant, and what it took for them to succeed. We’ll also dive deep into other topics related to owning and operating a profitable restaurant business in order to provide super practical advice for people looking to start or grow their own restaurant empire. Hosted by Bryan Tublin, Co-Founder & CEO of Kitava, a multi-unit clean casual restaurant brand based in the Bay Area. read less

07: Creating the Domino’s of Chinese Takeout | Hanson Li, Salt Partners
2d ago
07: Creating the Domino’s of Chinese Takeout | Hanson Li, Salt Partners
Hanson Li is the founder and managing partner of Salt Partners, a San Francisco based restaurant group with a current portfolio around the 4 major food groups: ice cream, Chinese take-out, bars, and bakery. This episode provides a super detailed perspective on running and growing restaurants, including what makes it so difficult, the tech stack Hanson uses for his growing fast casual concept Lazy Susan, and how he’s testing his way to scaling the business.––Where to find Lazy Susan:Website: https://www.lazysusanchinese.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lazysusanchinese/?hl=enFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/lazysusanchinese––Where to find Hanson:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hansonli1/Instagram: @chunky_chi––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:HalcyonHumphrey SlocombeB-SideSunday BakeshopToastBikkyTattleSlackOvercookedThe City We Became––In this episode, we cover:(1:00) Hanson’s first foray into the food & beverage business(04:00) The idea that became Salt Partners(08:05) Surprises learned when starting his restaurant group(10:30) Why stay in the restaurant business? “Food makes people happy”(12:20) The work Salt Partners does with its restaurants(17:00) The thesis behind Lazy Susan - The Domino’s of Chinese food(22:00) What does success look like for Lazy Susan?(23:06) How Hanson is testing the concept before replicating it at scale, and what he’s learned so far(28:38) What Lazy Susan is doing to solve production bottleneck issues from takeout orders(31:20) How starting without 3rd party delivery apps is benefiting Lazy Susan today(34:10) Lazy Susan’s tech stack for online ordering, loyalty, and email marketing (Toast, Bikky, Tattle)(40:25) Team structure, and Hanson’s role(41:40) Testing licensing as a growth channel for Lazy Susan(46:15) Why he wouldn’t haven’t started Lazy Susan in SF if he could do it over(48:20) What Hanson needs to validate in the next 6 months to continue growing the business
06: From Cookbook Author to Multi-Unit Restaurant Operator | Amanda Frederickson, Radish
Jan 31 2023
06: From Cookbook Author to Multi-Unit Restaurant Operator | Amanda Frederickson, Radish
Amanda is a cookbook author and owner of Radish, a fast casual restaurant with two locations in Nashville. In this interview Amanda shares the opportunity she saw for a healthy fast casual concept when she moved to Nashville, and how she took matters into her own hands by opening Radish. We discuss how she planned for and opened her first two locations, Radish’s org chart and what she looks for when hiring General Managers, the layers she implemented to allow her to step away from day-to-day operations and focus on growing the business, the opportunity of focusing on “B cities”, and the mistakes she’s made along the way. Amanda’s insights reveal what can happen when you combine a desire to scratch your own itch with a true market gap that has the same needs.––Where to find Radish:Website: https://www.radishkitchen.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/radisheats/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/radishkitchen/––Where to find Amanda:Website: https://www.amandafrederickson.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-frederickson-4b638911/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandafrederickson/YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfXoSuwwVTJ0B31jVVLH8eQ––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:Williams Sonoma Test KitchenSPQR––In this episode, we cover:(01:57) How moving to Nashville sparked Amanda’s idea(4:18) Food knowledge + financial knowledge = powerful combo(05:39) Amanda’s restaurant experience prior to opening Radish(06:31) Hiring to fill gaps in knowledge(07:16) Where the initial financing came from(09:21) Daily sales they projected needing to hit to succeed(11:01) Difficulties in being the anchor tenant of a new development(14:46) How she leveraged her cookbook following to get the word out(16:08) The next steps Radish took after reaching a sustainable sales level(17:48) How they created layers that allowed Amanda to work on growing the business, rather than getting stuck in the weeds(19:19) The staffing structure at each restaurant, and the skills she looks for in a General Manager(22:23) What they do with profits from their business, and how they funded their second location(25:16) The team Radish used to build out their locations(27:39) What she would have done differently during the first restaurant buildout(30:56) Lessons learned since opening her second location(32:31) Goals for the future(34:49) Maintaining focus on growing in smaller cities that have been overlooked(38:55) The value in getting your hands dirty to learn(40:01) What Amanda does to take care of herself
05: Building a College Town Institution | Alex Brandwein, Brandwein's Bagels
Jan 24 2023
05: Building a College Town Institution | Alex Brandwein, Brandwein's Bagels
Alex Brandwein is the owner and founder of Brandwein’s Bagels, an authentic New York-Style Bagel Shop located in Chapel Hill, NC. In this interview Alex tells the story of how a “breaking point” in his finance career led him to make the big life change to become an entrepreneur, and ultimately open a bagel shop while he was in grad school at the University of North Carolina. He also shares where the initial insight to open a college bagel shop came from, how a fortuitous meeting with an early mentor led to his first pop-up and eventual storefront lease, and why hiring an executive coach has helped him become a better leader and communicator. Alex’s story is inspiring for anyone looking to make a drastic career and life change, and his success shows it’s possible with the right planning, passion, and persistence to make your dream a reality.––Where to find Brandwein’s Bagels:Website: https://www.brandweinsbagels.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brandweinsbagels/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brandweinsbagels/––Where to find Alex:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-brandwein/––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:Gotham BagelsSBA LoanBoichik BagelsZingerman’sTeam Brandwein––In this episode, we cover:(02:57) Alex’s professional “breaking point” before founding Brandwein’s Bagels(03:59) How the desire to start a food business came from a gap Alex saw in the market for bagels while in his MBA program(07:08) The three questions he set out to answer before starting his bagel shopDo other people want this?How do you actually do it (and do I like it)?Does it make financial sense?(09:38) A fortuitous meeting that led to Alex’s first bagel pop-up, which eventually led to his permanent location(12:58) When Alex formalized the business, and how he funded it(17:38) At what point Brandwein’s Bagels hired a Head Chef(19:18) The number of bagels Alex knew he had to sell per day to make the business work(22:03) How Alex thought about paying himself(24:38) Why seeking help from a life coach was a crucial step in helping Alex make his career transition into food entrepreneurship(26:23) How hiring an executive coach has helped Alex improve as a leader and business owner(29:28) The biggest lesson Alex has learned from his executive coach(32:21) What did success look like initially, and how is Alex currently thinking about growth for Brandwein’s Bagels today?(35:18) “Our number one priority is to make sure the day goes”(43:18) Biggest lessons learned
04: Building a Restaurant to Fit Your Lifestyle | Mat Schuster, Canela
Jan 17 2023
04: Building a Restaurant to Fit Your Lifestyle | Mat Schuster, Canela
Mat Schuster is the Chef and Owner of Canela Bistro & Wine Bar, a Spanish restaurant in San Francisco specializing in ingredients and dishes from Spain and California. Mat also serves as the President of the Board for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and generously lends his talents to helping restaurants succeed in the Bay Area. In this interview Mat shares how he became interested in becoming a chef and restaurant owner, menu tweaks he made based on customer feedback, and his thoughts on building a restaurant to fit the lifestyle you want for yourself. ––Where to find Canela:Website: https://canelasf.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/canelasf/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanelaSF/––Where to find Mat:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mat-schuster-16a92ba4/––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:Golden Gate National Parks ConservancyJamón Ibérico––In this episode, we cover:(04:28) Where Mat was in his life prior to starting Canela(08:36) How he developed the dream to open a restaurant(10:27) The initial concept for Canela(12:55) Using early customer feedback to inform menu changes(14:58) Canela’s opening story(16:34) Finding the right location and funding the restaurant(17:45) Paying yourself as a business owner while putting money back into the business(19:19) The importance of hiring experts that have experience working with restaurants who will save you money long-term (interior designers, CPAs, etc.)(23:48) Developing an initial menu, and when to make changes vs. stick to your guns(29:40) When he knew the restaurant was going to be sustainably profitable(30:10) The misconception that restaurant owners walk around with big pockets; “most of my time is spent making money for other people”(30:43) The challenges and tradeoffs of operating a restaurant as a small business owner(33:03) How Mat’s role in the restaurant has changed over time(37:43) The future for Mat and Canela(44:43) Mat’s process for organizing his work each day(45:31) Ways to get things done: Either you do them, you hire someone else to do them, or you decide they’re not important (“do, delegate, or deprioritize”)(47:11) What Mat does to take care of himself(54:37) “At some point you have to jump in the pool”
03: Finding Your Michelin Star Business Partner | Ben Moore, Mamahuhu
Jan 10 2023
03: Finding Your Michelin Star Business Partner | Ben Moore, Mamahuhu
Ben Moore is a Partner and Co-Founder of Mamahuhu, a fast casual Chinese American restaurant concept that puts a modern spin on classic Chinese American favorites. In this interview Ben shares the story of how he fell in love with Chinese culture after living in Shanghai, was ultimately inspired to modernize Chinese American cuisine back in the States, then teamed up with a dream culinary partner in Brandon Jew, owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco.––Where to find Mamahuhu:Website: https://www.eatmamahuhu.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eatmamahuhu/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatmamahuhu/––Where to find Ben:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-moore-5a0a9752/––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:Mister Jiu’sHodo Soy––In this episode, we cover:(01:54) Ben’s early introduction to Chinese culture(03:25) What Ben was attracted to in the culture of Shanghai(04:40) Meeting his first business partner and the early seeds of the idea that became Mamahuhu(07:25) Ben’s two-pronged interest in food(10:38) Why Ben and sought out a culinary partner for Mamahuhu(12:00) Meeting Brandon Jew for the first time(14:20) How they funded Mamahuhu(16:48) Setting up their business structure(18:38) Figuring out how to divide up ownership among the co-founders(22:45) Coming up with the menu for Mamahuhu(23:50) Testing one of their early ideas as a digital pop-up through Caviar(29:59) The inspiration behind creating a modern take on Chinese American cuisine(34:09) Mamahuhu’s food values(39:02) Using simpler ingredients to create higher quality meals that meet their food values and business needs(45:07) What the opening process was like for Mamahuhu, both before and through the Covid-19 pandemic(50:50) When they knew the business was going to work(52:03) Where Mamahuhu is today, and their future goals(53:58) The criteria they use to choose new neighborhoods for potential expansion
02: How to Save Your Restaurant From the Brink of Failure | Laurie Thomas, Rose's Cafe, Terzo, GGRA
Jan 3 2023
02: How to Save Your Restaurant From the Brink of Failure | Laurie Thomas, Rose's Cafe, Terzo, GGRA
Laurie Thomas is the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and the Owner of Rose’s Café and Terzo in San Francisco. In this interview Laurie shares her journey from working in marketing for a tech company in Silicon Valley to becoming an investor in a restaurant group in San Francisco, and ultimately transitioning to running the business full-time as she was tasked with turning the company around from the brink of failure.––Where to find Laurie Thomas:Website: https://ggra.org/, https://rosescafesf.com/, https://terzosf.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ggrasf/?hl=en, https://www.instagram.com/rosescafesf/, https://www.instagram.com/terzosf/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ggrasf, https://twitter.com/rosescafesf, https://twitter.com/TerzoSF Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/287952471075, https://www.facebook.com/rosescafesf/, https://www.facebook.com/terzosf ––Where to find Laurie:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-thomas-91a724/ ––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:LuluRose PistolaRose’s CafeTerzoHamano SushiDon Julio 1942 Tequila––In this episode, we cover:(01:40) How Laurie first got involved in restaurants as an investor(04:53) The structure of Laurie’s first restaurant investment in Rose Pistola in 1995(5:44) How Laurie and her partners incorporated their company, Nice Ventures (06:46) How investors such as Laurie received distribution payments from their investment(09:16) Laurie’s journey from working in tech to restaurant operations(10:12) When Nice Ventures began expanding beyond Rose Pistola, “a little too fast” according to Laurie(11:17) The beginning of the collapse of Nice Ventures’ businesses(12:30) When “the music stopped” and Laurie’s company had to file a pre-emptive Chapter 11(14:25) The benefits of Chapter 11 for a struggling business(16:45) The risks of growing too fast, and the importance of knowing how you’re going to fund each expansion(18:15) What to do after filing Chapter 11 in order to clean up the business and rebuild(21:30) When Laurie got the business back on solid footing again(22:58) The decision to expand again to open Terzo across the street from Rose’s Cafe(24:08) The concept of Terzo, and the ga
01: Growing a Food Truck Empire | Evan Kidera, Señor Sisig
Dec 27 2022
01: Growing a Food Truck Empire | Evan Kidera, Señor Sisig
Evan Kidera is the Founder and CEO of Señor Sisig, a Filipino Fusion food truck innovator and now growing restaurant chain in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this interview Evan shares how he got started in the food truck scene, grew his concept to multiple food trucks, then ultimately decided to focus on growing the business through brick-and-mortar restaurants.––Where to find Señor Sisig:Website: https://www.senorsisig.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/senorsisig/Twitter: https://twitter.com/senorsisigFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/senorsisig––Where to find Evan:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evankidera/––Where to find Bryan:Website: https://www.myfirstrestaurant.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-tublin-03548910/Twitter: @btublin ––Where to find Kitava:Website: https://www.kitava.com/Instagram: @kitavakitchen––Referenced:We Be SushiKogiOff The GridLa Cocina––In this episode, we cover:(01:10) Evan’s background and early exposure to the restaurant industry(03:52) Evan’s early career, and decision to go back to school for an MBA(07:00) Street food inspiration, and where the idea for Filipino Fusion came from(12:20) Buying his first food truck, and turning the idea into reality (18:12) The origin story of Off The Grid in San Francisco(22:10) Launching semi-legally at a Roller Derby in SF(24:50) How they funded the business(26:31) Learning by doing in the early days of running a food truck(30:30) What success looked like for Evan when he started the business(33:45) How Evan was eventually able to pull away from the day-to-day grind of running the trucks(39:08) How Evan and Gil paid themselves early on(43:32) The decision to open physical brick-and-mortar restaurants(46:30) How Señor Sisig funded its expansion into restaurants(49:42) The differences between operating food trucks vs. restaurants(51:15) The rationale behind producing food out of a central commissary kitchen(55:30) Why expand via restaurants vs. food trucks moving forward?(57:31) Advice Evan would give himself if he were starting over again(59:12) Evan’s “welcome to life as an owner” moment(01:04:28) What Evan does to unwind