Initially, the focus was to have one really amazing restaurant. We thought that maybe one day, we'd have a couple, but neither of us ever thought we'd get this type of attention.
The concept was something new and fun, so word of mouth traveled quickly. And our story is also pretty unique - two best friends working in the restaurant business together for twenty years and then opening their own spot with their lives' savings. We literally poured everything we had into this business. I looked at my wife and said “I'm putting all of my eggs in this basket.” Fortunately, it worked out, you know?
But we also have our PR firm to thank for a lot of the success. They really believed in the brand, the two of us, and put together a really brilliant rollout plan.
It can definitely be tough. I'd say the main challenge is a difference in communication styles. I'm like a glass half full guy, all the time - doesn't matter what the situation. Dan is often the opposite. It actually makes for a pretty good balance, but definitely can lead to arguments, haha.
Learning how to navigate situations where there's a lot of emotions and money at stake is what makes a good business person - not letting emotions get in the way of making the right decisions. I struggle with that. Dan struggles with that. We're both learning. My goal is to be a zen person - one who can sit at a business table, always smile, but can make a decision solely based on what's best for the business.
The truth is, the menu sort of came from my diet. Dan's the chef of the company, but I worked at an Italian restaurant for a really long time, and would always eat meatballs with tomato sauce, broccoli and spinach. So I came up with the idea of meatballs, but Dan and I evolved the concept together.
I just thought meatballs would be a fun thing to do. Everyone loves meatballs, and there are so many different things you can do with them. We went back and forth for months trying to figure out what we were going to serve at this restaurant - how to make the menu a bit more interesting than just meatballs. But it worked out. Since opening, we've added brunch to the menu, but we honestly haven't changed much else over the past five years.
We actually closed on a home upstate last summer. While I'm there, I cook like a maniac. It's an old house with a few acres of farmland, so we're able to grow all of our own ingredients, which is really nice. We have apple trees, we grew the squash, we grew the kale. We didn't grow the quinoa though, haha.
This kale looks so good. I love being able to pull stuff out the ground and take it straight to the kitchen. It's like my favorite thing to do on the planet, and and there's no comparison with the taste.