Education: Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.
First job: Washing dishes at a local steakhouse
Greatest business challenge:
It’s two things, really. It’s always been undercapitalization. This is a very capital-intensive business, and we chew through capital like crazy trying to build the business.
The second is this is such a people business that having the right talent on board is always one of the challenges. We have 28 restaurants, and if I had 28 great chefs and 28 great general managers, I’d have no problems. Not that I’m not surrounded by great people, but ultimately, some are better than others.
Most important business lesson: Things work out. If you work hard, have integrity, good values, good quality, you’re honest, treat people with the Golden Rule, things always work out.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made lemonade out of lemons, or how many times we’ve made opportunity out of adversity. I used to worry about every little thing. Everything was Chicken Little, and the sky was going to fall.
It’s just not that way. I’m much calmer today than I ever was.