Food entrepreneurs in Greater Hartford are launching successful startups and helping to make Connecticut a go-to dining destination.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to Present Company Founders Tom Gale and Jeff Lizotte?
“An entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take a risk for a reward. This is definitely a risky business. Being a chef is risky, but it’s incredibly rewarding,” says Jeff. “The entrepreneurial spirit from my side [is] all my training, my aspirations, my dream of having my own place and working for myself—and having a great partner in crime.”
Tom adds, “The most important part of being an entrepreneur is also humility. It’s about being able to adjust. You must be able to pivot. And you must humble yourself over and over. Pride and ego can get in the way. And you have to balance that humility with confidence—knowing I can do this.”
READ: Present Company Offers Innovative Dining in Tariffville, CT
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BISTRO ON MAIN
Bistro on Main General Manager Ben Dubow on what he’s learned in his entrepreneurial journey:
“I feel like most entrepreneurs get themselves in trouble because they’re undercapitalized. We were realistic and conservative with our business plan and our performa. I didn’t want to oversell what I thought we could do.”
READ: Entrepreneur Helps Launch Fine Dining Bistro in Manchester, CT
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MARKET PLACE KITCHEN & BAR
Market Place Kitchen & Bar General Manager Courtney Maggio and Executive Chef Roy Kalil provide advice for people who are starting out in the food industry:
“It’s a lot of work and you have to give it everything you have,” says Roy. “You have to love it. You can’t just put it together and hope for the best, you need to own it. It’s like your baby.”
Adds Courtney, “My advice is to start small, understand how it works, and then you can grow. The restaurant business is tough. Most businesses don’t make it past the first year.”
THE PLACE 2 BE
The Place 2 Be Co-Owner Gina Luari on owning a business:
“People don’t understand the logistics that go into business ownership. It’s things you don’t even think about, things entrepreneurs endure while people are constantly telling them their idea is not going to work,” she says. “Pulling through that and becoming successful is the most incredible feeling.”
Hungry for more stories about Hartford-area food and drink entrepreneurs?
- Krust Pizza Bar: Connecticut Startup Business Success
- Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ: Small Business Growth in Connecticut
- Mercado: Startup Food Truck, Catering Business Finds Success in Greater Hartford
- Toasted, LLC: Hartford Food Entrepreneurs are on a Sandwich Revolution
- Connecticut Startup Bakeries Find Sweet Success
- Connecticut Fosters Startup Brewery Scene
Are you planning to open a restaurant, café or brewery in Greater Hartford—or do you know of a place IDH should feature? Let us know about it. Contact us.