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Life & Work with Paul Benkert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Benkert.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. When I first started at a neighborhood pizzeria, my only plan was to make a quick buck. I never thought I’d become a restaurant owner. Now I have two, and we’re building a third. You know, one thing led to another, I gained experience, got promoted–I’m far from perfect, but I showed up for every shift and I tried to do a good job–and the short story is one day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to work for someone else. This industry has always been a means to an end for me, even as an owner. I’m only just realizing that it isn’t something I’m passing through, but it’s where I belong. The tree is beginning to bear fruit.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t even know where to begin with this question. No, it has not been smooth. A failed concept, fifty thousand dollar plumbing disaster, coronavirus… in addition to the almost relentless 12-18 hour workdays trying to get our first concept off the ground… for years. I Gained 60 pounds, I was drinking considerably too much–that’s some quick brutal honesty. Eventually, I began the slow process of discovering sustainability, personal health, work/life balance, etcetera. I’ve been sober for two years. I still work long, hard hours, but I take time for myself. Also, I like working. Don’t get into this industry if you don’t like working.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We’ve definitely evolved over the years. We are very concerned with the state of the modern food system and how that affects both the planet and people. Through our creative menus, we really strive to open a dialogue with our guests. So, I’d say we use our creativity as a platform to inspire change. Of course, on a simpler level, we also very much enjoy providing our guests with an enjoyable experience. You can come to enjoy a wonderful cocktail, but should you choose to go deeper, there’s a story to be discovered behind every menu item. We’re here to engage with you if that’s something you’re interested in or to shake something up and slide it across the bar with a smile.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Fulfillment. If what you do doesn’t fulfill you, you need to do something else…

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Justin Tsucalas

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