FEAR — IT CAN BE A VERY GOOD FOUR LETTER WORD

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I have always been a fear based personality and I used to think it was a bad thing. While I am still highly fearful of all types of bugs and things that fly, I have learned to manage my fear to make it work for my business and our clients. Let’s get one thing straight (yes even on DOT429) – when we are fearful, we have two choices – become paralyzed or put a solid plan together to combat our concerns.

Opening a new business always entails risk. All of us have heard the scary statistics about new restaurants in particular – especially in major cities like New York and San Francisco. The rents, the labor, the competition – oh my! The prospect of opening a restaurant may very well instill fear, but successful operators reduce this stress with clear market analysis, well thought out financial plans, concepts that are needed – and the appropriate amount of capital to operate during the crucial ramp-up phase.

The sheer number of new restaurants that have opened recently show us there are some pretty brave (and talented) souls out there. Despite an economic downturn and cautious predictions about the revival of the hospitality sector in the coming year, we’ve seen an amazing number of places come to life this year – everything from expansive projects like Wayfare Tavern(SF) and Prospect (SF), to the intimate self-built/designed restaurants like eVe (Berkeley), Sons & Daughters (SF) and the Little Cheese Pub/Brat’s (NYC).

The husband and wife chef/owners at eVe self-financed and built their small and successful restaurant in an up and coming section of downtown Berkeley. Likewise the chef/partners at Sons & Daughters overhauled an antiquated space and replaced it with an edgy restaurant that is sure to surprise guests with very unexpected touches. Guests at both restaurants enjoy the sense of discovery that comes when these chefs push the envelope in new or exciting ways. Many times their menus also challenge guests to take chances with unique ingredients –conquering some of their own food fears. I admit I once was very fearful of sushi – and now I love it.

Were these owners fearful? You bet! But both of these new ventures exhibit the passion and dedication needed to make it. Rather than opting for the tried and true, these young, independent entrepreneurs have designed and built restaurants that are changing the shape of dining today. They are the innovators that have faced fear and continue to use it be successful. Here’s to them!

So for all the cowardly lions out there, I remind you the courage to overcome fear lies within. Just be prepared, calculate the risks and have a plan. If everything feels right and makes sense then you’ll know what do to. I wish you the best of luck – The Wizard of AF&Co.

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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