Many people hear “Small Business Saturday” and think SALE 💸. And while we don’t blame you for loving a good BOGO deal, here at AP Intego we wanted to do things a little differently. We know that each business has its own, unique DNA made up of hard-working individuals who sacrifice a lot to follow their dreams. For us, the easiest way to understand and celebrate our customers is to learn about their stories.
This year to celebrate Small Business Saturday (November 30, 2019) and appreciate all that small business owners do, we took the opportunity to chat with an AP Intego customer, Jamie Bissonnette.
Jamie Bissonnette is the James Beard Award-winning chef and partner of Boston & New York City’s Toro Restaurant, Boston’s Little Donkey & Coppa Restaurants. He’s got a long of list of awards that wouldn't fit in this paragraph, but which you can read all about at the end of this post.
He splits his time between the restaurants in Boston & NYC. Despite his insanely busy schedule (he flew in from Bangkok the day before speaking with us), Jamie was willing to give us his inside scoop; what it takes to succeed, even in the hottest of kitchens. Keep reading to learn Jamie’s biggest small business tips:
What are some things that have contributed to your success?
Patience, travel, and open-mindedness. I fell into cooking as a young teenager. When I realized that it was my calling, I started asking everyone I met about food– cab drivers, bandmates, chefs, servers and anyone who would listen to me. When I realized that their experiences made their view of food different, travel seemed like the best way to gain exposure to all different foods, styles, ingredients, and cultures.
Was this always your vision?
When I first started cooking, I was so enthralled with the different spices, flavors and style. I would like to think that I have always had this vision, but I didn’t always have patience. That was learned over the years.
How do you stay motivated?
Once a cook gets to a certain level, they have to be self-motivated. Each cook’s timing will be different, and recognizing that is important. Self-motivation, for me, comes from the drive to keep learning, though I am more of a teacher now. I keep asking questions, even if I think I know the answer. You have to stay open-minded!
What inspires you?
I am inspired by passion. I can taste it, see it, and feel it in others’ food. That makes me want to do the same.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by everyone, in one way or another.
What are some of the challenges you face?
It’s hard to slow down and solve a problem working in a fast-paced environment. It was easy for me to jump over the hurdles in my younger days. But they added up and slowed me down so much. Now I know that when I get to one, jumping over it isn't the move for me. Stopping to solve and correct, so I don't have to jump over the same hurdle in the next lap, has proved to work best.
What surprised you in the beginning, and what surprises you now about running your business?
In the beginning, I was blown away by the people who didn't care about their coworkers. Now, that surprises me even more. Taking care of each other first makes taking care of the food and guests much easier (and means you’ll have way more fun working as a team).
Your restaurants are very trend-setting, both with decor and menu selection- How do you stay out in front? How do you stay in touch with what your customers want and have come to expect from you?
Never stop listening to feedback. It is easy to tell yourself that the criticisms from guests or staff are wrong but listening and aggregating the data to learn from is important for growth. Never try to set a trend, just be yourself.
If you could give a new business owner any advice, what would it be?
Make sure you can answer one question: “Do you know why you’re doing it?”
Is there any advice you wish you had received when you first started out?
I wish I had learned to slow down and be more patient.
This Small Business Saturday, we’re celebrating every business owner who works hard to pursue their dreams. We get that it can feel overwhelming and hectic, but at the end of the day, your passion drives you to overcome any challenge you face.
After facing his own obstacles as a business owner, Jamie’s passion for food catapulted his restaurants to become staple of both the Boston and Manhattan dining scenes. His story has certainly served AP Intego some #smallbizinspo this Small Business Saturday, and we hope it left you feeling inspired, too!
A huge thank you to Jamie for sharing his wisdom with us and for being a loyal AP Intego customer! Share your own small business story in the comment section below.
🏆 Jamie Bissonnette is a winner of the Cochon 555 nose-to-tail competition and was awarded the inaugural People’s Choice: Best New Chef award by Food & Wine magazine. In May 2014, he was honored with the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Northeast and in 2016, honored as the Massachusetts Executive Chef of the Year.
Image credits: Ken Goodman, Josh Andrus, Nikita Carpenter Jr., Instagram: @JamieBiss @toro_nyc