Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matthew Dolan, Executive Chef & Partner of 25 Lusk, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is the restaurant 25 Lusk here in San Francisco. We are a three-level restaurant offering a dynamic space in a historic building, tailored private events, an outdoor dining venue, and a top-notch team that delivers at the highest level. Our customers range from larger corporate clients taking advantage of the beautiful spaces flexibility and capacity to our local neighbors who may just swing by for a quick bite and a drink. And everyone in between.

Tell us about yourself

As a boy with limited athletic ability, cooking with my mom was more rewarding than being mediocre on the sports field. A passion developed at a young age, and since I was fourteen years old, the professional kitchen has been my workshop and second home. What motivated me daily was the adrenaline of service, leading my excellent team, the creative role in trying new ideas, and back to leading, leading the team in the interest of creating beautiful guest experiences. We aren't curing cancer, but we are making their lives better while respecting the trust they have given us. And we do it as a team with a shared mission.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a business owner, perhaps the biggest accomplishment was surviving COVID. Or perhaps cooking for President Obama.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The most challenging thing about being a business owner is managing money. Once your concept realizes it has a price ceiling and that you have hit it, then navigating increases in the cost of goods, rising wage expenses, supply chain issues, and non-controllable expense increases becomes the proverbial chess match.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

My three tips for those looking to start, run, and grow a business today are these:

  1. Prepare a detailed business plan and have it reviewed by successful colleagues who may see holes you miss.
  2. Once the amount of needed start-up funding is identified, build in a reserve cash balance as well as a contingency account. In the beginning, money goes the fastest, and without a suitable cushion, you'll be closed faster than it took you to open.
  3. Most importantly, have a solid concept that you love, that speaks to you, and that you are willing to make mighty sacrifices to ensure its competitive reality and conception. Your guests, clients, and customers will be able to sense the difference between your heart-driven version and your competitor's lack thereof.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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