Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food service but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Monique Hayward, co-founder and CEO of DRISCOLL Cuisine & Cocktail Concepts, located in Glendale, AZ, USA.

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

DRISCOLL Cuisine & Cocktail Concepts is a standout personal chef company in the Phoenix metro area, creating an atmosphere and experience for small, intimate celebrations and special occasions in your home that rival your favorite restaurant. In short, we offer a variety of service options, including multi-course tasting menus with wine pairings, small plates, and appetizers with cocktails, family-style dinner, and brunch. We also offer cooking demonstrations and work with clients on corporate parties and special events.

Tell us about yourself

I'm an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-tech corporate marketing executive with over 25 years of business experience. On the entrepreneurial side, I have two companies -- Nouveau Connoisseurs Corp., which I founded in April 2004, and most recently owned and operated the award-winning Dessert Noir Café & Bar in Beaverton, Oregon. In 2019, I co-founded DRISCOLL Cuisine & Cocktail Concepts, a personal chef service in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area. From 2010 to 2012, I was also a partner in Cerise Noire Software, LLC, a mobile software applications company.

In addition to my entrepreneurial pursuits, I have a thriving career in high technology, where I'm the Senior Director for Business Applications Ecosystem Marketing at Microsoft. I've also held various senior roles in marketing, communications, and business development at Intel and Tektronix.

By my mid-30s, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my work in marketing and communications and wanted something more fulfilling. Having tried my hand at being a commercial model and spokesperson and serving as executive producer, writer, and host of my own talk show on a local cable TV station, I thought the next natural step would be pursuing entrepreneurship.

Growing up, my late grandmother had a dual career as a nurse and beauty salon owner in New York City. As teenagers, my brother and I would visit her over the summers, and she’d take us to her salon in Harlem, where we’d sit for hours listening to the beauty shop banter and performing chores to help our grandmother out around the salon. While we were unappreciative and bored most of the time, enough of that experience stuck with me that I was inspired to start my own company alongside my corporate career.

My motivation is best summed up in my "why" statement: I live to get my hustle on, being responsible, intentional, and purposeful each day. I spend a lot of time thinking and strategizing about how to make myself and my business ventures successful and setting plans into motion to make things happen.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was launching an award-winning restaurant in Beaverton, Oregon. Dessert Noir Cafe & Bar was a pioneering concept that brought fine dining sense and sensibility to the Portland suburbs, and I was able to build it from scratch and achieve over $1M in total revenue.

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

Assessing and managing risk is one of the hardest things business owners have to do to be successful. I’ve taken significant risks as an entrepreneur, and in some cases, the risk paid off, and in others, the result was a failure from which I learned and grew from the experience.

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

  1. Define balance for yourself and prepare for your entrepreneurial journey. It will take a lot of energy, effort, time, focus, and resources to make your business successful. Make sure you're absolutely going into it with your eyes wide open, and you have a good handle on how to set priorities for your life and your business.
  2. Write a business plan, even if it's just a few pages. A clearly articulated and well-documented business plan that details your idea and how you're bringing it to life will give you the discipline to get things "out of your head" and "onto paper."
  3. Be a fearless promoter of yourself and your business. No one tells your story like you do. Get used to sharing what makes your business special and why.

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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