Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kyle Gordon, owner of Dillas Quesadillas, located in Dallas, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is my community with a specialization in PRIMO QUESADILLAS! Our purpose is to build community through primo quesadilla meals. Our restaurant is very focused, and we want to deliver the goods to our customers. To be as consistent as possible, we only do primo quesadillas and sides. We focus on quality interactions, quality products, and quality environments. Our customers live close to our restaurants - we're a convenient, reliable stop that makes everyone happy. Our goal is to be THE community restaurant, not just a restaurant in the community. People get Dillas to connect.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a dedicated husband, father, and restaurateur. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where I attended school at the University of Texas. I wasn't a good student, and most of the time, I worked on crafting my quesadilla brand in class. After school, I spent seven years as a leader in the restaurant industry. I moved from entry-level ($12/hr) up to Certified Training Managing Partner (the highest single unit rank). Then, in 2013 I started my own restaurant concept, Dillas Quesadillas. My motivation for doing it was control over my own destiny. Daily, my motivation is my wife and business partner, Maggie, and my two children, Parker and Grace. The thing beyond my family that keeps me going day in and day out is my Team. I get energy from coaching and developing. I love to talk to my Team about growth, opportunity, setting goals, and how to be successful - on their terms - based on what we talk about. It gets me excited to improve lives, build community, and bring people together through quesadillas meals!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Growth and Impact. Dillas now has 7 locations, with ten more under contract, and over 275 Team Members throughout North Texas and Louisiana. Sales are trending towards 15 million dollars. In 2020 I was honored by Dallas Business Journal as a 40 under 40 recipient and by the National Restaurant News as one of the Most Influential Restaurant Executives. These sound like vain individual honors, but they're really not. It affords me the platform to bring attention and opportunity to the Team I get to work with. We are building something together and making an impact on the people we work with, the customers we serve, and the communities that we impact. With Dillas as a vehicle for giving, we've donated over 50,000 meals to charity and have given away countless thousands of dollars in sponsorships, fundraisers, and donations. We live our core values; that is our biggest accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Nobody pats you on the back at the end of the day. It can be lonely, so you have to have a servant mentality. I always look at how I can help, how I can be of service, and how I can uplift my Team. This perspective affords me the encouragement I need to feel great about myself and not need an "attaboy" at the end of a hard month or quarter. Another difficult thing is scale and pace. When to make decisions, when to get out of your comfort zone, when to fire/hire, when to pivot, and when to just shut up and focus. Nobody gives you the roadmap; you have to rely on mentors and books to guide you...but they don't provide answers, only perspective, and experience.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I like to think of starting a business like jumping off a cliff. Therefore my tips are - 1. LEAP 2. Trust, through hard work and perseverance, that the net will appear. 3. The net is only stability. The ladder down to financial freedom and solid ground (if this is your goal) is the real grind. It's the day in day out marketing, building, selling, risking, innovating, etc. Once you set foot on solid ground, it is likely that you'll look up at the top of the cliff and realize that you've taken a risk and built something that is extremely valuable to someone you...and someone else ($chaching!). Many people relate building a business to climbing a mountain. This isn't accurate because it doesn't take into consideration the initial free-fall. Think about it this way, ask 100 people - have you gone on a hike? Have you jumped out of a plane? That is the difference - most people can take a hike, but it's much more rare to find the bungee jumpers and skydivers. I'd argue that skydiving is a lot more fun...and potentially dangerous:)
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Believe in yourself. Follow the gut feeling. There is help along the way. Don't give up, and never quit. Start small. Read - A LOT. Have fun. Don't cut corners; hire good professionals. A-Players are free - hire them. In order of focus: Manpower, culture, operations, financial performance, marketing. GOOD LUCK!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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