Forbes Los Angeles Business Council members are as diverse as the city in which they live. Restaurateurs, engineers and world changers, the following entrepreneurs make it clear that with perseverance and creativity, anything is possible — even growing food on Mars.
Selected for membership in the Council for their specialized expertise and unique perspectives, these individuals are powering growth throughout Southern California and beyond.
Sound like your kind of people? Visit forbeslacouncil.com to see if you qualify.
As a successful restaurateur, lawyer and consultant with multiple hospitality concepts across the United States, it may come as a surprise that Charles Lew’s first project — a state-of-the-art, 2,000 square foot sports bar — ended as a bust. His absentee sub-landlord wasn’t paying the rent.
“I swore I’d never open another restaurant,” Charles said. "Then, a few months later, I opened Stout.” That tenacity and an unwillingness to surrender proved to make all the difference.
Stout Burgers & Beers, an inventive, upscale pub, offers a vast selection of more than 30 artisanal draft beers alongside what Lew likes to call the “better burger,” a healthy burger dressed with a variety of unique, homemade toppings, such as specialty cheeses and arugula. Today, the restaurant has five locations throughout California, Kentucky and Tennessee.
That momentum led Lew to pursue a variety of other visionary concepts — from a taproom and event space in the Arts District of Los Angeles to a coffee house collaboration with Metta World Peace — in what he truly believes is the City of Dreams.
“ This whole city is built by dreamers ,” Charles said about LA.“It doesn’t matter how preposterous my ideas are, this is the only city I’ve been in the entire world where someone will say, ‘Yes, do it!’ This begs you to be creative and think outside the box.”
With 3.8 million small businesses in California alone, according to a report by the U.S. Small Business Administration, surviving amongst the sea of competition takes considerable effort and planning by every business owner. You need to be on top of your game at all times to survive and ensure you have enough profits to bring you into the next year without strain.
Developing a relationship with the local community can be key to your business’ success. It can help give you visibility and attract customers to your establishment. Taking advantage of every resource your community offers to you is also a must if you want to cement the position of your business locally.
Below, six members of Forbes Los Angeles Business Council share the one free, local resource that they have found to be incredibly valuable for business owners and operators in the city.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
Los Angeles business owners share valuable local resources.
1. The Dream Center
The Dream Center is a nonprofit outreach dedicated to helping inner cities by providing food, clothing, shelter, life rehabilitation, and more. I work with this organization because of their intensive homeless outreach and I appreciate them allowing me and my team to accompany them to Skid Row to obtain feedback from the homeless on our shelter and programs. - Tina Hovsepian, Cardborigami
2. Local Schools
Local universities and colleges have helped us create a profitable restaurant. We started years ago, by reaching out to the social directors for fraternities, sororities and alumni associations. The students have become not only loyal customers but vocal supporters on social media. As the students have graduated, they continue to be invaluable customers and our greatest support structure. - Charles Lew, Stout Burgers
Forbes Los Angeles Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners in Greater Los Angeles. Do I qualify?
3. Arts District BID
The Arts District Business Improvement District (BID) has been hugely beneficial for us in getting art approval, street lights, bike corals, city council dialogue. It’s not free necessarily, as we all pay for it, but superbly helpful all the same. - John Rankin, Boomtown Brewery
Ever dreamed about turning your food blog into a food empire? Perhaps even launching your own restaurant where other food bloggers are eager to dine and snap Instagram-worthy shots?
If so, you should pay attention to Ayesha Curry because she is making her restaurateur dream a reality! The businesswoman, who also happens to be the better half of famed-basketball star Stephen Curry, has now developed her own line of cookware and permanent flagship restaurant,
From food blogger to the queen of her own food empire, Ayesha Curry is a fabulous example to all of us who want to build a successful business around our passions.
Taking a page out of Curry's cookbook, here is a step-by-step guide on how you, too, can build a food empire.
1. Define your message and brand.
Ayesha Curry's celebrity persona is down-to-earth, approachable and kid-friendly. Every social media post she shares leaves you feeling inspired, empowered and excited about life. She is a mom mom who is always on the go, and we regularly see her two children on her social media, videos and website's blog posts.
Take some time to think about your brand and who you are trying to reach. Are you a busy mom? A fashionable executive who loves happy hour with the girls? Something totally different?
Whatever it is, take action and write down three adjectives you want your readers to feel when they read your blog or browse through your Instagram feed. This will help guide your content.
2. Cultivate strategic partners.
Curry has partnered with The Food Network, ZupaNoma and other brands that are in alignment with her overall message. These partners have helped her increase her brand's visibility. WhileThe Food Network may be a long shot for most of us, you can still find ways to expand your audience.
As a food blogger, make a list of five to ten brands that you truly love and reach out to the social media manager in those marketing departments about collaborating with them on future campaigns. Most social media managers are strapped for time and love it when bloggers proactively reach out to them with collaboration ideas.
3. Generate media and press.
Before launching her restaurant, Ayesha Curry could be found speaking at various food and wine festivals and appearing on various news outlets. You can do the same thing!
Choose a food topic that you are passionate about and create a 30-minute talk about it. Then, reach out to local meetup groups and food festivals about presenting your talk to their audience.
4. Surround yourself with restaurant experts.
If your goal is to eventually open your restaurant, start reaching out to restaurant experts now to get a better understanding of the industry.
Charles Lew, the superstar restaurant developer and consultant in Los Angeles, says his number one tip to new and aspiring restaurant owners is to "hire hospitality experts in legal, accounting and management. And don't let your friends manage any aspect of the business just because they used to wait tables when they were 18!"
Charles knows a thing or two about restaurants. In addition to his very successful Stout Burgers & Beers, he also works with celebrities on opening their own restaurants, including Metta World Peace, Kelis and Omari Hardwick.
5. Launch products.
From cookware to cookbooks, Curry has products available on her website, in local stores and, eventually, in her restaurant. Physical products can have some hefty upfront costs, so start small with digital products if you need to.
For example, you can begin with self-publishing a short e-book that is downloadable on your website.
In addition to following your passion as a food blogger, you should also have a strategy in mind. It is 100 percent possible to make your dream a reality,if you define your message, spread the word and surround yourself with experts who can help you along the way.