Charles Lew owns and operates multiple hospitality concepts across the United States. He also consults on numerous restaurant and lounge projects throughout California.
Charles is recognized as one of the city’s leading experts on not only the operational aspects of restaurants but the equally important although lesser understood licensing, permitting and zoning of hospitality venues including Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA and Kaglew Restaurant Consulting.
Entrepreneur Role Models
When business started difficulties overcame:
. By a series of very interesting events ended up a very small owner of a bar that turned into the most popular bar/nightclub in the city. So followed that up with another bar and night club that turned into an extremely popular bar and night club. Then had a little success and he thought he was extraordinarily intelligent and that he was destined for a life of success after success and then he through in a monumental failure or two…[Listen for More]
Favourite BooksThe power of positive thinking book Book by Norman Vincent Peale Think and Grow Rich book Book by Napoleon Hill The Slight Edge book Book by Jeff Olson The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership Book by Richard Branson
“It ain’t how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward” – Rocky Balboa – Rocky – Sylvester Stallone
“finest hour” Winston Churchill
“If you‘re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Favourite Online Resource
Best Advice to Other Entrepreneurs:
Get started. Just do it.
More About Charles Lew
Neil’s Quote at the Beginning:
“You have to learn to ask questions in a way that will elicit more nuanced answers, rather than the answers you would like to get.” Jacqueline Novogratz
Other Quotes From the Chat with Charles Lew:
“I think reading is imperative, it’s standing on the shoulder of giants to see further”
“99 percent of mistakes that will ever been made, have been made so you can do yourself a huge favour by reading”
“we are competing against ourselves if the product we make is good and the service is good”
“the key is to know that change is inevitable and try to look for trends”
Read every single day, read every single night, take every single chance you can, pick up a book and it really is standing on the shoulders of giants, when you pick up these books.
Transcript of Charles Lew's Podcast
#00:00:45-7# Hello everybody, its Neil Ball here, thank you so much for joining me today on the entrepreneur way. The entrepreneur way, is about the entrepreneur’s journey, the vision, the mindset, the committment, the sacrifice, failures and successes. I am so excited to bring you our special guest today, Charles Lew. But before I introduce you to him, I have a little bit of trivia for you, Jaqueline Novegrat said, ‘you have to learn to ask questions in a way that will elicit more nuanced answers, rather than the answers you would like to get.’ The Entrepreneur Way asks the questions, so we all get the insight, inspiration and ideas to apply in our businesses. Charles, welcome to the show, are you ready to share your version of the entrepreneur way with us?
#00:01:35-7# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Neil, its a pleasure to be here, I am ready, lets do this.
#00:01:38-8# Neil :Charles Lew owns and operates multiple hospitality concepts of across the United States, he also consults on numerous restaurants and lounge projects throughout California. Charles is recognised as one of the cities leading experts and not only the operational aspects of restaurants, but the equally important allthough lesser understood licencing permitting and zoning of hospitality venues. Charles can you provide us with some more insight into your business and personal life, to allow us to get to know more about what you do and who you are?
#00:02:17-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Sure, absolutely Neil so I think that was a pretty good intro and I think it sounded pretty interesting and to kind of break it down we run as intro said from the kind of creation, incubation and operation of restaurant concepts. All the way through the consulting on the operations and the consulting on the permitting and licencing of restaurants and lounges and really at this point, almost all hospitality concepts even hotels. So we pretty much between my partner and I, we go from, as I said, the incubation/creation/operation of these concepts, all the way through and then what we found was being lawyers, people would see that they are getting the relative success that we were having and they would say, ‘hey, why don’t we hire these guys and bring them in to help us consult on our projects and hopefully avoid the pitfulls and mistakes that very very easily can put people out of the restaurant business.’
#00:03:22-4# Neil :Ok, so you say you do consulting, is it consulting on start ups or do you do consulting on existing concerns as well?
#00:03:32-5# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Right, so both Neil, so we will definately do consulting on start ups, thats a big chunk of the consulting business, but what we have seen recently, is quite alot of consulting on operating businesses. So right now for example, not to bore you with too much legislation in the United States, but there is a huge movement right now for payroll and minimum wage, and a big increase in minimum wage so obviously as a restauranteur, what are your main costs? you know there is a little bit of background for your listeners, you have essentially two main costs and then you have got some smaller costs that add up, but your main costs are your COGS, your cost of goods sold and your labour. So you know the kind of golden rule is always to try and keep your COGS and your labour around 30% 25-30% and that provides enough room for you to make money, in your food service restaurant. Your food service concept, so what we have seen recently is because of the increase in labour costs and because of the new legislation is a lot of restauranteurs right now and they are looking at the concept, and they are realising that when the minimum wage increases, there concept is going to be really damaged by this and now they are trying to figure out if there is any way to take existing concepts, and manipulate them and maneouvre them into a less labour intensive concept.
#00:04:54-7# Neil :Mmm hmm, ok and so you sound like Gordon Ramsey with a Law Degree.
#00:05:00-6# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I like that. ha ha ha, I have never had that description but I like it, ok. We are going to go with it. Ha ha ha.
#00:05:13-3# Neil :So are you still a practising lawyer? Yeh, I have about five clients outside of the consulting business that basically won’t let me quit being a lawyer, they have been with me for over a decade now, and as much as I don’t really want to practise too much for whatever reason, they are very happy with with what I do, and I am happy enough being their lawyer that I continue to do it, but it is definately very limited. Limited portion of my time is actual practise of law outside a restaurant specific. And what do you enjoy most about what you do Charles?
#00:05:49-1# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Eating Neil, I enjoy eating yeh yeh.
#00:05:51-5# Neil : Well its a good business to be in for that. Ha ha ha.
#00:05:55-8# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Yes ha ha ha and drinking, I enjoy drinking. I enjoy scotch, so between eating and scotch, that is a big portion of what I like about what I do. Joking aside, it really is, so its tedious and its involved and as many moving parts as a restaurant job is, you know, I snapped a picture on instagram earlier and it was pretty funny, it was five burgers that were lined up at one of the restaurants and it was essentially my job to try them all and pick out very subtle nuances and kind of make a determination of which of the five variants of this one type of burger I like best, so you know thats not the worst job that someone could have.#00:06:4
#00:06:41-2# Neil :So you mentioned instagram there, how much do you use social media to actually market your business? do you do that?
#00:06:47-6# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I do and I actually just got asked to write a very brief article on that and you know I would say that in the past my social media use had been pretty limited, but recently over the past year, I have really tried to step it up, just because you start to realise here that and statistically that you know all the statistics are readily available so you can go on google and search it out and search it out, but some of these numbers are pretty dramatic. You know they will say that x percent of all internet searched restaurant sourcing so that every lead that essentially comes from an internet search on 20% or 15% of them are coming from instagram or facebook and you see these numbers and they are real numbers, you know if you are talking about 300 covers a day, you know 300 heads a day and you are realising that 15% of that is coming from social media interaction, that is one sixth, you know 50 people a day give or take my math, forgive my math, lets go 50 patrons a day at 30 bucks a head, thats 1500 bucks, so you all of a sudden sit there and say ‘wow thats a huge portion of my income generated from social media’ so at this point you can’t ignore it at all. You cannot be in this game and not partake in social media to some degree.
#00:08:15-9# Neil :Mmm, I think some places are I don’t know if you do this, but I know some restaurants are actually encouraged their patrons to actually use social media and tell the world about what they do, do you do anything like that?
# #00:08:29-2# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : You know I actually try not to, there are definately alot of restaurants, you see like check in with us on facebook or check in on Foursquare and get a free appetizer, and do this or do that. I actually don’t like that, I try not to do it, I feel like the social media’s job is kind of to get the person in there. And then my product and my service is what should make that person’s experience a great experience, not the fact that they got a free side of onion rings, so I like bringing the people in with pictures and explanations and beer pairings and we have got this rare craft beer, we have got this beer that is aged bourbon beer with vanilla notes and this and that and all these things that people look at on an instagram picture and say, ‘wow I never ever thought of a burger with fig jam and grueyex and this and caramelised onions, that sounds incredible. They see a picture of it, they say ‘oh my gosh, I’m going’, they run in and then we have them and if our product lives up to the instagram pictures, we are in good shape.’
#00:09:43-4# Neil :Yeh I suppose if the experience is good enough, people will tell the world about it in any case, won’t they?
#00:09:45-4# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Exactly. Yeh and I don’t want to bribe them with the sight of onion rings. Yeh ok, and what is it that drives you Charles?
#00:09:55-2# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Thats a good question Neil, I don’t really know, I get bored very easily. So I think from an entrepreneurial perspective, I have enjoyed some fun projects in the past, and now as the restaurant business is getting, I don’t want to say more successful because I think that is a very broad term, but I would say more stable, as the restaurant business we are in is more stable, and at this point in time, I am able, I live in Los Angeles which I would mention that it is, kind of you know imaginary land, whatever I can come up with in my head, I can find someone in this city that will believe I can do it and will support me, so you know it really just fosters this creative entrepreneurial mindset. That makes you sit one day and say, ‘you know I have always wanted to do this, or I have always wanted to do that’ so from that perspective, the restaurants are incredible but we are just always looking for other stuff and I think the start up is to not ramble on but I think the start up is what gets me excited, its that initial idea and its sitting there and saying, ‘you know what I just thought of something, why did no-one ever do this?’ and then its the 30 seconds on google, typing it out and seeing that ‘oh wow, no google search ever came up so maybe they didn’t’ and then the name and then the go daddy search for the name and then, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe this name is open’I think its that, you know, its that kind of process, that excitement that just kind of keeps you going and keeps your mind going and I don’t know, just keeps you wanting to do more and add more and create more.
#00:11:46-6# Neil :I know from my experience when I had quite a large business, the growth stage of it was the exciting part of it and when it started to sort of level off a bit, it became less exciting and more like a, it was more like a sort of job in a way I suppose. I can understand What you are say there, that makes total sense to me. How do you relax when you are not working in your business?
#00:12:10-0# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : You know if you ask my wife that question, she would say I never do, and she would say, ‘even when you are in a conversation with me, you are on your phone and your instagram and this or you are tweeting this or you are emailing a lease or you are answering a question,’ so I guess for pure relaxation that definately read. I think its so under-rated and I think that like all the knowledge in the world literally is now so accessible with i-tunes and i-books, and all this stuff so I think reading is just imperitive. Its talking about standing on the shoulder of giants to see further, I mean literally every single mistake that 99% of mistakes that will ever been made have been made. So I think you can do yourself a huge favour by reading, and most recently podcasts, I started listening to them probably about a year ago, and as you probably know Los Angeles traffic its the most bizarre and unpredictable thing in the world. And there is no rhyme or reason to any of it, it does not work with the rush hour, its this rush hour thought process that while the roads will be busy from 8-9.30 and from 4-6 and if you leave at 1 in the afternoon and for no reason a 12 mile commute will take you an hour and 30 minutes. So if you find yourself in that type of traffic, you have plenty of time to listen and catch up on some podcasts and kind of get inspired prior to your meeting and maybe learn a little something or just see what everyone is doing, you know, I think it is so important to keep up on not even your competitors because I think not even the restaurant business were really not in competition with anybody except ourselves.
#00:14:03-4# Neil :Yeh
#00:14:03-4# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : And I always tell my employees that ‘this persons doing this and this a new concept and this a top chef and he is now doing a burger restaurant, this guys doing this and’ look guys, we are competing against ourselves. If the product we make is good and the service is good, we will be fine. So I just try to read and try to learn, and obviously try to get in the gym 3 or 4 days a week. So I don’t look like I own a chain of burger restaurants, and then you know, bars and restaurants. Because I don’t really want the appearance that I do nothing but taste food all day. Ha ha ha so a little bit of that also.
#00:14:47-4# Neil : Mmm I don’t know if you find this, but I find its always good to get perspective from other industries as well isn’t it? because you can sometimes draw from those and bring them back to what you are doing.
#00:14:56-1# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Absolutely. I mean I could not agree with you more, I think that you can look at especially from my perspective, there is the promotions and marketing is such an interest in the business that its really its own world, you know its not like those promotions of restaurants or marketing of a clothing brand. I mean its promotions or marketing are, and now I think there are alot more on it, theres alot of really incredible books have come out recently about it. But yeh, I am fascinated by that, and I think there is so much to be kind of gleaned from the world of promotions and marketing, and apply it to all your businesses, or any business, for that matter.
#00:15:41-4# Neil :Mmm absolutely. And do you have any entrepreneur role models?
#00:15:44-0# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : 100% without a doubt, Richard Branson. I grew up in Scotland, so I remember going to Glasgow, and I remember going to the Virgin store in Glasgow. It was just behemeth, it was this massive store, and you know, you would walk in and there was so much energy and it was young and hip before it was cool to be young and hip, which is a funny statement, but it was kids and youth. When that was not the good thing, when that was not looked at as you know, there was no internet, so there was no 23 year old billionaires and 26 year old billionaires. So being young was being inexperienced and being poor. But Branson to me, had like I don’t know if it was a vision or subsequently now reading, biographies and books on him and books about you know the virgin way and all this stuff, you realise that he was just always ahead of his time. I mean always. I mean, if you read his story, you realise that even more so, there was just some kind of guiding principle there that was just not available to the ordinary person.
#00:17:06-9# Neil :Mmm he has done incredibly well in business, but one thing that always fascinates me about him is how well known he is, around the world, I mean I have talked to people in Australia, I have talked to people in Australia, I have talked to people in America. And everybody knows about Richard Branson and talks about him as one of those people up there with Steve Jobs and people like that and it is amazing what he has done really because he is an entrepreneur. But he has done really really well and in terms of being known and I suspect some of his antics in the 80’s and 90’s might have contributed to that when he was doing his ballooning and his speedboat records and his speedboat records and things, I am sure that got alot of attention for him, so it was a very clever move from him and but that, so Charles can we go to time before you were an entrepreneur? and can you talk about some of the difficulties that you had to overcome to start your business?
# #00:17:57-6# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Sure sure, so I grew up in Scotland, I moved to Florida. I actually was born in New York, and moved to Scotland when I was extremely young, I moved back to the United States to Florida for High School. Went to college in Florida and then moved to Los Angeles for Law School, so I mean I think if I had a kind of start with the wide eyes and the recognition of the world being a little bit of a big scary place, it will probably be you know the initial move to Los Angeles. You know you come to Los Angeles from Tallehasey, Florida and things are big and fast and really most importantly, they are very expensive, so you know you get out here and instead of a gallon of gas being a dollar nineteen at the time, you know a gallon of gas was $2 dollars and sixty cents, and you know they tell you in law school you cannot work, you should not be working your first year of law school, that is a horrible idea, you know its a guaranteed recipe for failure. But you get out here and you realise that if you don’t work, then you will be homeless and hungry. So you basically say, ‘ok let me get a job’ and kind of puzzle through this and so I would say that was a huge eye-opener and definately not the traditional path for a first year law student, I ended up I had no real appreciable talents, so what I ended up doing, six years ago I was big and I have always been fairly large, I was about 240 lbs I don’t know how many stone that is but quite a lot. And like I said, it was the only job I could get where I could work the hours and still enable me to go to school but obviously as you can imagine, it is not really conducive to good grades to be at a bar and nightclub till four in the morning throwing people out. And then show up at your torts, you know your torts class or your civil law or your criminal law class, at 8 in the morning and have been expected to read 50 pages and you still smell like thetequila that was spilled on you at 2 in the morning. So that was definately interesting, an interesting couple of years and presented some definite difficulties but it was a learning process and stuff that makes you, maybe made me a little bit better and a little bit more resilient, and more capable of carrying non-traditional burdens that other people maybe did not have to deal with or were fortunate enough to not have to deal with. And then after law school, kind of the same thing, very non-conventional, everybody decided they wanted to be a lawyer and I kind of found myself continuing in this bar/nightclub path and by a series of very interesting events, ended up as a very small owner of a bar that turned into the most popular bar/nightclub in the city. So I followed that up with subsequently with another bar/nightclub that turned into an extremely popular nightclub and then as with a lot of people, you have a little success and you think that you are just extraordinarily intelligent, and that you know, you are destined for a life of success after success.
#00:21:31-5# Neil :Yeh
#00:21:31-5# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA :So then you throw in you know a monumental failure or two and then you find yourself sitting there going, kind of wondering about the career path you have taken, because you have obviously taken a real hard right, so you have obviously taken this massive detour from what would have been the traditional path. And you find yourself in a very different place, and you realise that it is not this, you have a heel alright, its not this achilles heel, there is not this, the air of invulnerability kind of dissipates and you are sitting there going ‘wow I better figure out what I am doing.’ So had those, had more than one or two or three of those at that point in time, world and in catastrophic failures. And you just learn to kind of pick yourself up and you know I think the secret of it is to try to learn something but you know we are not all perfect so we are not always going to learn something and sometimes we are going to leave and just be beat up and tired and I think the one thing you can do is keep moving, you know you can always kind of keep going and start again and figure out just how to emerge from it if not wiser or more informed at least a little tougher with a little thicker skin. So its been, thats kind of its been 16 years since I finished law school, and I think we are getting ready to start to open our 11th/12th and 13th restaurant with multiple concepts, so its been an interesting journey.
#00:23:22-8# Neil :So did you have any doubts that delayed you starting your business?
#00:23:28-0# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Yeh I think you know, I think the entrepreneurial kind of mindset, we all kind of have and you know most of the people that I work with, and deal with on a daily basis or at least on an entrepreneurial mindset even if they are in more traditional jobs and I think we all kind of have you know, to some degree that same concern, that the social, you know the concern over you know like the societal view over of what you are doing and its non traditional and why would you do that when you could do this and is it dangerous? obviously not physically dangerous per se but is it a dangerous move to do this, is it short sighted? So I think you have all of those, and I think thats where family and your support system is obviously very very important because I think alot of people go through their life, you know or their adult life prior to retiring and they end up at 70 years of age and sitting there saying that you know I really had no desire to do what I did, but you know its safe and you succumb to you know these kind of societal pressures. And no one wants to be the starving artist, or the starving author or the person getting their gas turned off or their water turned off, so yes I think that the same concerns that everybody does when they sit there and they turn down that weekly pay check, that K1 regular big companies got my back and they are going to take 10% of my salary and put it somewhere nice and clean for my retirement.
#00:26:31-8# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA :And they are going to give me some stock options and you know I am going to get ten days vacation a year, and if I stay here for 20 years I will end up at 30 days vacation a year, so absolutely, there is always a concern when you don’t take that type of job. And you know I, even now I funny actually I just got a really interesting call about two weeks ago without naming the company, but it was from a massive restaurant hospitality company in the United States, they are actually global now. And it was to take over the North West Region for this hospitality, this food concept, and of course my initial reaction was to say the guy that actually found me on linked in and my initial reaction was to say, ‘you know you found me on linked in so you obviously see that this I don’t work for anybody, I work for myself and at least in the social media world it looks like we are growing well and doing fairly well.’ And he said, ‘yeh I do understand that, and I did say that but I would at least like to run this opportunity past you because it really is quite the opportunity,’ and when he did present it, it was, it was everything that someone in that world could ever dream of. I mean it was a massive successful company, that is going to be here as long as restaurants and food concepts are here, and it was a huge salary with stock options and vacation days, so you kind of look at it and you think to yourself, ‘wow thats a great kind of opportunity’ but then you take a step back and you kind of say, ‘you know I have been kind of going at it, on my own, with my partners and stuff but on my own as far as there is no parachute.’ So you have been going at it on your own, for 15 years and now you are at a point where you are really making a run of it, like you don’t kind of quit now, you don’t throw the towel in now. But it is interesting that even now, those opportunities present themselves, and still make you sit for a second and kind of ponder what you are doing and where you are going.
#00:27:26-6# Neil :Mmmm, I could sort of understand what you are saying, but I don’t know if I could take that step back into a job, its not my, it certainly would not work for me. So what mistakes did you make that slowed your journey?
# #00:27:42-5# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Wow, any that you could come up with. Ha ha ha. Anything that you could formulate right now, I could pretty much guarantee that I made it. I mean over extending, delays, not being aware of competition, not looking at geographics and demographics and understanding the business that I was put in and where I was putting it. Not doing due dilligence, not being too trusting of people. Not looking at five years down the road, but looking at six months down the road, and not realising that things that are trending now you cannot start, so for example if I look at something that is trending right now and I say, ‘donut shops in Los Angeles are trending’ so four or five of them have popped up, if I run right now and do a donut shop, I’m very very late to the game. So thats the type of thing that took a couple of years and a couple of mistakes to figure out, is you ‘can’t trace trends’ you have to either anticipate trends or again, if you are someone like Richard Branson, or one of these guys, you create them. So I think you know, you have to learn not to chase. You have to learn to get on assets that we have, the internet, which is just incredible and YELP and these resources and instagram and look and see and try to figure out what’s not six months down the road or definately what is popular right now or even six months down the road, but where the market is going to go in two years, in three years, in five years. And we were kind of doing that right now where, we were really diving head first into coffee, and everybody says, ‘well coffee has been around forever, and there is starbucks and there is coffee bean.’ And there is 800,000 coffee concepts, and you say ‘yeh there is but there is not as many craft coffee concepts, there are not as many third wave coffee concepts’ so then I sit and look at it and I say, ‘ok we are going to do this coffee market concept and we are going to add this healthy market concept that does not rely on labour so we are not worried about the legislation and increase in payroll that is hitting us this year and next year.’ and then you break down all the numbers and people say well ‘how much more coffee can people consume?’ The United States are number one consumer of coffee in the world. And then you dig a little deeper into that and you say, ‘you know they are the number one coffee consuming country in the world.’ However, the per capita consumption of coffee in the United States compared with other countries is very very small. So even though we are 300 million people drinking a cup of coffee a day. So 300 million cups of coffee a day, you might find that the United Kingdom consumes on average 4 cups of coffee a day, so even though there are x number of people, there is actually much more room for growth for coffee consumption in the United States and you know, some other country. So I think its just so important to kind of read between the lines, and look at the information and where we are so fortunate as opposed to just 20 years ago, literally, as every single piece of knowledge in the entire world is sitting right in front of me right now. You know, and of course my computer screen is on TMZ which I don’t know if your listeners know what that is, but its not a good source of information. But I digress, every piece of information is in front of you and you know, readily available. So I think its just a good time, a good time to really partake in it and study it and you know emmerse yourself in it.
#00:31:33-3# Neil :Mmm hmmm and what are some of the things you did before you started your business that would be helpful tips to some of the listeners who have not yet taken the first step of the entrepreneur way?
#0 #00:31:42-6# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Right, so I think the most helpful tips I could give to any listener, or any starting entrepreneur, I think I would probably have two. The first one would be I would tell them to read literally everything they can get their hands on. There is just a wealth of business books out there right now, every single day there are new ones. Every single time you look on New York Times bestseller list, there are new ones. I think Trump has got about five of them out right now, so I guess you could avoid those, depending on whether or not you like them, but I have actually even read his books and they are interesting and there is probably some information in there that would help you, one of the things I would also say is I would say, don’t look at a book and judge it by its cover, so my example there would be two of my favourite books are ‘The power of positive thinking and think and grow rich’ both of those books are 100 years old, so your initial kind of reaction I think would be to especially if you read the first chapter of them, you actually see that alot of the information seems anti-quated and not really applicable to the modern day at all, really not applicable at all. But I think, once you kind of read between the lines, with those books, you realise that its more about the principles of business, and the wisdom that is contained within those books and those pages that are not only as applicable today, but I think some of them are actually even more applicable today because of the fact that there are certain things we merely hypothosise back then that now we have subsequently found out to be not science fiction but science fact, so there is even more support for some of the theories, in those books that were written 100 years ago, to business today. And more truth in them even now, than there was back then. So I think if you could read, I would tell people to read everything.
#00:32:02-9# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA :Read every single day, read every single night, take every single chance you can, to pick up a book, and it really is standing on the shoulders of giants when you pick up these books. The other thing I would say is and I think I really used to have mixed feelings about it, but now I would 100% recommend is to find a mentor. And I never really had anyone growing up, from a business perspective that I could look at, and really follow in the footsteps and go to with business questions and business queries, but I think in retrospect now I think it is an extremely valuable relationship, is that mentor/mentee relationship because I think it really can help you avoid making a lot of mistakes, and I think there is value and I think there is something to be said, for learning on your own but when I look back at some of the mistakes I think, I would rather have not made them and not learned, whatever the hell the lesson I learned from that was, I would rather have not learned it and not had to go through that, so that would be my two really kind of pivotal things that I would say to someone just starting on that kind of entrepreneurial journey.
#00:35:03-2# Neil :Yeh you have just made me kind of think of something else there, you talk about think and grow rich, and that talks about the power of a mastermind, have you ever been in a mastermind?
#00:35:12-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA :Yes so Neil, I think about that alot actually because I love that book and I have thought about it, and I have actually bought, read subsequent books, I have read subsequent books about mastermind groups and you know I don’t think so, I don’t think I have ever been in that group where you feel like there is this incredible symbiotic relationship between everyone. Where there is almost like the sharing of a brain, and thoughts are transferring without almost being spoken. I think I have had meetings like that with partners and I think I actually just had a meeting with a group of guys, actually that is funny you ask that Neil because, a meeting I participated in two days ago, was probably the closest I have ever been, to a meeting that felt like that and I will tell you the funny part about it was it was all people I just met for the first time. So it was not a group where I had years of experience with, where we knew each others kind of strengths and weaknesses, it was actually the first time I had sat with this group, and I would say, in all of my business experience it was maybe the most, the most pure of a mastermind group feel that I feel I have encountered.
#00:36:27-2# Neil :Mmm I have experienced that in meetings that I have had in the past where things just seem to appear from, thoughts just seem to come from nowhere almost, or you come up with ideas, just by being with other people and bouncing ideas around, and Charles can we talk about your entrepreneurial journey itself now? so a few things I would just like to ask you about that. Do you think culture is important from the beginning in a business?
#00:36:56-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I don’t and I don’t because I think that again, its something that I said at the beginning, if the business is set up well, and the product is of such quality, that it demands people to take notice of it, and the service of that product, is such the same, I think you actually will see cultures grow around that business. So I don’t think its a necessity to start the business, with a culture, I think that the culture can develop, and the actual consumer can develop with the business. The consumer and the culture.
#00:37:40-4# Neil :Ok and knowing what you know now, is there anything that if you had known it when you started out would have helped you to shortcut the learning curve?
#00:37:51-4# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Thats a really good question. Is there anything that will help me shortcut the learning curve? No I think the only thing again I would say is I think that mentor/mentee relationship could have been extremely valuable to me and I think it could be extremely valuable to other people. I just think its one of those things where you could have someone that has been there before, and now I look at mistakes people make, and I can tell them certain things to do and not do and I feel like I can save them a year of time. So I think that would have been the shortcut.
#00:38:31-8# Neil :Ok and how much does gut feeling influence your decisions in your business?
#00:38:39-5# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I would say personally maybe at times it is too influential, I am definately very instinctual with how I react to certain things. And I think there are certain times when a more thorough thought process would actually behoove me and I do not partake in that to the degree that it may necessitate, I think sometimes I go a little too gut instinct and sometimes it bites me in the ass.
#00:39:16-5# Neil : Mmm and then sometimes you ignore it and wish it had not happened.
#00:39:17-4# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Exactly. Yes exactly.
#00:39:20-2# Neil :Yeh I know that feeling. Charles, life is made of constant change whether we like it or not, and some would say that the only constant is change, how do you try to keep up with change?
#00:39:32-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : So Neil, I think that is a great question, like what do we do to anticipate change and I think it is extremely relevant to the food business and the hospitality business. And there is a really great quote on a tv show, a historical tv show I watched, a little while ago and it was on the Titans of Industry, so Rockerfella and Carnegie and his guys and the guys said again, ‘the key with these individuals was that they saw not six months down the road or a year, but they actually saw five and ten years down the road.’ And I think thats the key, I think the key is to know that change as you said is inevitable, and try to look for trends. I mean we have got the greatest resource device that has ever been available to the human race at our fingertips. So with a little work and a little due dilligence, we can really anticipate and plan for and see change and progression, and just how things are going to move in the future.
#00:40:37-0# Neil :Ok and my next question is about your favourite book and you have obviously already talked about books, but do you have a favourite book on entrepreneurialism, business, personal development, leadership or motivation? and can you tell us why you have chosen it?
#00:40:55-1# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Yeh I think just to sort of thrown a wrench in your question, I think my favourite book is again I think we mentioned, ‘the power of positive thinking’ and ‘think and grow rich’ so those are kind of the books that kind of always guided me and I just found alot of merit in them and a lot of truth in the words. Theres a new book that I read, thats not a 100 years old and its called ‘the slight edge’ and its by an author called Jeff Olsen. I don’t know if you are familiar with it or if your readers are familiar with it, but if they are not, they should be. And I mean they should be because its a great book, again its called the ‘slight edge’ and I don’t want to paraphrase the premise of the book, because that is the author’s job, but kind of what I took from it was just very very small incremental changes, over a long period of time, can result in massive massive changes over a long period of time. So you know, short variations and you know changing course by one degree a 100 miles later, can end up in you being in entirely a different continent, literally so I like that, and I think it is very applicable and I think it is something that we cannot all wake up tomorrow and say, ‘tomorrow when I wake up I am going to be a marathon runner. I am going to be the greatest chess player in the world’, but what we can do is we can wake up tomorrow and say, ‘tomorrow I am going to run half a mile.’
#00:42:26-8# Neil :Yeh
#00:42:26-8# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : And then the next day I am going to run a quarter of a mile more, etc etc so its a premise again that these slight incremental changes can really make the world of difference.
#00:42:40-4# Neil :Ok and do you apply that in what you do?
#00:42:43-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I try, I try you know I would love to say Neil that I do, and I do try. But there are days I don’t you know, there are days I don’t. There are days I get home at 10 oclock at night, and have a 24-hour fitness five miles away and it would be very very easy for me to get back in my car and drive over and go to the gym, and I don’t so I tried though, I think in my head, my intention is to go, so I am halfway there.
#00:43:08-6# Neil :No what I was meaning was, do you apply the sort of slight change in your business?
#00:43:14-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Yeh I do and I try to apply it in everyway so I am sorry if my answer was a little misleading, I just thought in the context of fitness I tried to do that, and in business a 100% you know I sit there and I think, you know, these slight variations, you can’t introduce huge change to patrons, especially in a restaurant, that they are comfortable with or that they love. But what I have learned, and what I think is very applicable is that you can see a goal that you want to get to and you can see you are starting point, and you can realise that over the period of a year. With again, very slight changes, you could get to where you want to be, so yeh 100% I think the book is very very applicable to all manners of business, and definately something that I use regularly.
#00:44:06-4# Neil :Everyone when you have a busy life, listening to audio books is a great way to expand your knowledge in the time that when you are doing other things such as driving, or when you are at the gym, we have a special offer for you of a free audio book of your choosing, to choose your free audio book go to www.freeaudiobookoffer.com. As long as you have not already signed up then you will qualify. Charles, can we now sort of fast forward a little bit and think into the future a little bit, so what one thing would you do with your business if you knew that you could not fail?
#00:44:43-7# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : So yeh Neil, I think that is a great question, what would I do if I knew we could not fail? I think that the one thing that we try to do is, we try to do a lot of locally sourced and organic, and we try to do, we are obviously not a vegetarian restaurant. Or none of my restaurants are vegetarian, and some of them are actually carnivorous. For lack of a better way to put it but I think if I could sit right now and know that they could not fail, I think that I would love to be even more eco friendly and be more animal friendly, and not to say that we would turn into vegan restaurants per se, but just to know really try to continue to make steps to be more concious of not only the earth as a whole, but the animals on it.
#00:45:32-0# Neil :Ok great answer. And what skill if you were excellent at it would help you the most to double your business?
#00:45:43-9# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Wow these are some good questions Neil. I have done a couple of these, and these are definately the most creative questions that I have had on any podcast interview. They are usually so run of the mill that I feel that I can stick the mind on cruise control. What skill? So what skill that I don’t really have right now?
#00:46:12-8# Neil :Yeh it might be something that you have not got, it might be something that you can get better at.
#00:46:19-4# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Right right, what skill? I don’t know if this is applicable or this is a fair answer, but this is something that I cannot do and I wish I could and I actually think about it every year is I am not multi-lingual, and I think in this global community that we are in, I think it is so important and I don’t think it matters what language it is, I don’t care if its Spanish or Arabic or Chinese or Russian or whatever, or French, but I think its so important to be multi-lingual because its such an ice-breaker you know you are going to run into a chinese individual, or Russian individual or a French individual and you know once you get a certain level especially in business. Its such an international community, you know you might run into a Russian person that you are in some kind of business relationship with, I would say once a month, I interact or encounter a Russian person. And I think to be able, even if it was rudimentary Russian to be able to speak with the person in their first language I think would be just a monumental aid, and that is definately something that I wish I could do or do better.
#00:47:36-0# Neil :Yeh you could do that in your traffic jams in LA.
#00:47:38-8# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : I could, I could definately pick up another language.
#00:47:43-0# Neil :In five years from now, if a well-known business publication was publishing an article on your business, after talking to your customers and suppliers, what would you like it to say?
# #00:47:55-1# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Wow, ok, I would like the well-known publication in five years to say that my business was a wonderful experience, that was not only a culinarily, a culinary delight and interesting from a culinary perspective. But made the patron feel as if they were in a home kitchen, and that I had done it all in a socially concious manner.
#00:48:34-3# Neil :Ok beautiful. We are now at the part of the show where you share three golden nuggets with us, so Charles, what is your favourite quote, and how have you applied it?
#00:48:46-5# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : So to paraphrase my favourite quote is from a Rocky Balboa movie, Rocky and it is basically it does not matter how hard you hit, its how hard you can get hit and get back up, how hard you can get hit and keep moving. That to me is just a, I think it is a, I think it is so applicable. Especially in the entrepreneurial world because what you realise again and in the entrepreneurial world is you are going to take such a beating, you are going to be subjected to just experiences that you could never school for example, could never prepare you for, there is no classes, there is no and I don’t care if they are entrepreneurial classes, there is nothing that can prepare you for the beatings that you are going to take, and so I think that I have applied that just by getting back up. You know, for lack of a better way to put it, I have applied it by taking that beating and being able to take it and live with it and not only again like I said, ‘move on from it’ but maybe be tougher after it. Not necessarily better but definately tougher, so I think that is a great quote and another individual that I have always been fascinated by his quotes and just I have read biographies and autobiographies, and historical accounts was Winston Churchill. I think he is such a fascinating individual because you talk about someone that was literally assailed on all sides, and really had you know was in a situation of pretty much hopelessness and not only managed to retain hope within himself, but to inspire a literal country to be hopeful and really at that point in time, the rest of the world so I love his quotes, two of my favourite quotes from him are if you are going through hell, keep going. And I just think there is something just profound about that, if you are going through hell, keep going. And I think it has to end at some point. So I think it is an amazing amazing quote and then there is another one from an entrepreneurial perspective that I love and I don’t want to mess this up but success consists of going from failure to failure, without the loss of enthusiasm. I think thats it and I might have a word or two off, but I think that is another one that is so applicable to what we do Neil, to your show, and to what I do on a daily basis. Because again, we are going to fail and we are going to continue to fail, and if I can jump back in a computer with you, after ten years of failure, with intermittant successes and sounds somewhat enthusiastic, and I think that is words to live by.
#00:52:06-6# Neil :Mmm you have got to have tenacity, haven’t you? I think thats the other thing.
#00:52:08-9# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Yeh yeh.
#00:52:10-7# Neil :And do you have a favourite online resource that you can share with us?
#00:52:18-3# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : You know, I do and its a little different because it is very applicable to my particular business, but its YELP, and Neil that is probably a little odd to some people, and I say this obviously take all YELP reviews with a grain of salt, especially the negative YELP reviews on my restaurants, they are obviously all fake. But I think that the interesting thing about YELP is if if you have a 100 YELP reviews, take the 20 good ones, the 20 best ones out, take the 20 worst ones out, and that 60 in the middle I think is an incredible incredible example of your product. So I think it is a, and I don’t care what your product is because YELP was originally restaurants and now the YELP about everything. So I think there is so much information can be gained, by that middle 60% of your YELP reviews.
#00:53:10-5# Neil :Yeh its such a powerful thing these days isn’t it? reviews, customer reviews, especially these days. So what is your best advice to other entrepreneurs?
# #00:53:21-6# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : My best advice is something I told a very good friend of mine, today who is leaving the corporate world, to become an entrepreneur and he is an extraordinarly intelligent person and he took me to breakfast this morning and said, ‘Charlie I just need some advice, I need the inspiration, I need to know something, tell me something’ and it was super super simple Neil and I told him very very simply, get started. Just do it, get started. Two words.
#00:53:50-8# Neil :Absolutely, brilliant advice, everyone if you did not manage to get a note of Charles’ favourite resources or his favourite books, you can find the links on Charles’ show notes page, just go to theentrepreneurway.com and search for Charles or Charles Lew in the search box. Charles is there anything else you would like to add about your business?
#00:54:11-7# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : No not really Neil, you know I am in the restaurant business, a fun business, I would tell anyone that has an inkling of just a thought of getting involved, there is some curiosity to give it a stab. You know go jump in a kitchen somewhere and wash some dishes and see if the restaurant bug bites you, its a great door opener. I have managed to kind of parle it into some other really interesting entrepreneurial opportunities. Because you literally meet every single person in the world, so you know I think it is a fun business in restaurants. Open a lot of doors and we will keep you well fed.
#00:54:52-3# Neil :Yeh Charles, it has been an absolute honour having you on the show, its really been enlightening and you have certainly given us alot of insight into the entrepreneurial mind and the spirit and it has been fantastic so thank you for coming on the show,
#00:55:06-7# Charles Lew Owner of Kaglew Restaurant Consulting, Stout Burgers and Beers, Bobby London LA, Gasser Lounge, Boom Town Brew, The Morrison LA, Joe Coffee LA : Thanks Neil I appreciate it and again I appreciate those questions, I mean you definately, there was zero cruise control in this interview which is good. I mean really I am telling you this with complete sincerity. You do a couple of these and you can literally put your brain on cruise control, and that did not happen at all. So thank you for keep me on my toes.
#00:55:31-9# Neil :You are welcome.
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Read every single day, read every single night, take every single chance you can, pick up a book and it really is standing on the shoulders of giants, when you pick up these books.