Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Roy Elam, Owner of Donna Jean, located in California, USA.

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

We are a plant-based full-service restaurant that serves the communities of Bankers Hill (San Diego) and Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles).

Tell us about yourself

I became serious about being a plant-based chef after I went vegan 17 years ago. After working at other restaurants, I opened the first Donna Jean in San Diego on Feb 22, 2017. I absolutely love what I do, and it motivates me to keep going each day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Making it through Covid!

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

I think the personal aspect of running a business is the hardest thing. We try to meet every employee where they are and try to realize that everyone comes from a different place with different experiences.

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

  1. Stay true to your core values. Don’t chase the new shiny object. Slow and steady is the way to go.
  2. Stay human. People are what drive your business. You can’t treat everyone like a number.
  3. Stay humble. Admit that you don’t know everything. Once you say you know it all, then you have decided to stop learning.

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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