Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julian Martinez, owner of Barbareño, located in Santa Barbara, CA, USA.

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

Barbareño is a small independent restaurant based in Santa Barbara, CA. Our goal is to embody our local region through food. We aim to serve as a place to dine regularly for locals as well as being a quintessential Santa Barbara experience for visitors to our town.

Tell us about yourself

I began working in restaurants in high school as a prep cook at a local tavern. I majored in organizational studies college at Claremont McKenna College, working in restaurants throughout. In 2014 I opened Barbareño with my friend, Jesse Gaddy when I was 25 years old. We were both utterly unprepared, but the ability to adapt to challenges, continually learn, and commit to growth got us through. To this day, that same mentality (the desire to always be just a little better) is what continues to push me forward in both work and life.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think making it through the COVID-19 pandemic was our greatest accomplishment. I was part owner of 6 businesses prior to the pandemic. Unfortunately, two years later, it was down to just one (Barbareño). It was a very difficult time, but we've come through the other side stronger as an organization.

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

Balance. As an owner, you want to do everything and be everywhere. But burnout is a real thing, and it is not a good experience. Committing to having a life outside of work is hard to hold yourself to. But I believe it to be absolutely essential.

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

  1. Be adaptable. Not every idea will work. Be willing to give things a try and move on when it doesn't work out.
  2. In terms of employees, there will be bad eggs. Spot them early and treat them like toxic waste.
  3. Focus on your essential tasks. If you find yourself doing something that someone else could do, delegate it. Your job is to build jobs, then find people to take over those jobs who (hopefully) can do those jobs better than you.

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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