Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alfredo Rodriguez, owner of Blu Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
What’s your business, and who are your customers?
Upscale Italian Restaurant, our clientele are people looking for a flawless experience overall – we do not sell food and wine, we sell an experience.
Tell us about yourself
I came to Canada 22 years ago. I went back to university when I was 25, and I finished my business degree when I was 30. I had been working in hospitality to pay for tuition and living expenses. When I finished my degree, no company wanted to hire me because I was older than most graduates with a thick accent and no experience in the field. I decided to go back to hospitality, but I would be my own boss this time and not look for a job ever again. I decided that I would buy people’s time instead of selling my time.
I have worked in hospitality since I was 13 years old, started washing dishes, so it felt right from a business perspective to go in the field that I had the most experience. Over the years, I realized that I was also passionate about quality food, great wines, genuine customer service, and most importantly, passionate about investing in real estate from the profits generated from Blu.
What’s your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Almost 14 years in operations with Blu Ristorante. I have seen hundreds of restaurants in 14 years opening and closing at an alarming rate.
What’s one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You are always working mentally, 24/7. You’re always thinking about how to improve, how to run a tighter operation, how to retain key employees, how to innovate, etc. Being a business owner is similar to becoming a parent. The moment your first newborn comes home, you know that you will not have a break from being a parent for many years to come. I believe this analogy applies to being a successful business owner. Of course, this only applies if you are a good parent.
What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask yourself if you are comfortable with the idea of living uncomfortably for many, many years to come.
- Learn to control your ego and learn from people. Recognize 2 or 3 skills that you are very good at and focus on these. For all the other 20 skills that you are not good at, hire people you enjoy working with, and of course, they must be better than you.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Cut off all the people in your life that do not contribute to the betterment of your life.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Being a successful entrepreneur and a leader can be a lonely ride. Make sure you are aware of this, and you enjoy creating your own destiny. Be ready to work long hours for the first few years.
Where can people find you and your business?