Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Phillip Dawid, Managing Partner and Chef of La Boqueria Tasting Room, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada

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

I opened La Boqueria Tasting Room at the start of 2019 as a creative passion project looking to bring the Spanish Pintxo Bar tapas culture to Vancouver. A night of Pintxos typically means crowded standing room bars with people clamoring for the house special. La Boqueria has made an effort to execute a marriage of the stimulating Pintxos bar tasting room experience with the social ambiance of a 20's lost generation-inspired European bistro. Never over-complicated or contrived. The food is prepared quickly and presented right away. Drawing from the Basque philosophy of fine ingredients and local, we aim to elevate Pintxos and present refined simplicity with our dishes. I was drawn to the Vancouver Chinatown area as my first choice for the location as it has lots of character and rich history but has been in deep need of new life and revival. We have been very lucky to scrape by during the closures with Covid and make it through the pandemic with many lessons learned and pivots along the way.

Tell us about yourself

I have been a serial entrepreneur since high school. I started out with a company designing websites, then moved and worked on several side hustle projects throughout university. I finished a Commerce degree with a specialization in Accounting and International Business. While at school and not working on the side businesses, I worked in hospitality both front of house and back of the house at several restaurants. I also studied wine and worked managing a wine store for several years. Before opening La Boqueria I started a tech company called TutorSage, creating a platform for private teachers and tutors. I had worked in Accounting and Finance for many years, and it was not until I moved to London, England, that I was truly inspired to open a restaurant and wine bar. While working at Christie's auction house in London, I got exposed to many amazing bars in London and also had the opportunity to travel and spend time in Spain, mainly Barcelona and the North, where I fell in love with the Pintxo tapas culture. La Boqueria was a chance for me to have full creative control over creating a menu, bar program, and design that would test my experience and focus my inspirations on a new project.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The pandemic had forced me to pivot the business and La Boqueria many times. We were forced to adapt and chance on a weekly or monthly basis given new and changing restrictions. Although being very challenging and stressful, the pandemic allowed me to learn how to run a lean restaurant and find ways to continually optimize the business. My greatest accomplishment as a business owner is becoming a restauranteur during the pandemic and surviving while learning the ropes of running a new concept and restaurant.

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

Being a business owner isn't for everyone. You need to be passionate about what you are doing, willing to sacrifice, and dedicated to your vision. The hardest thing about being a business owner is to never lose your vision or motivation and to continually work on building momentum and surrounding yourself with good people, as well as learning how to delegate to and attract new talent.

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

Do your research and clearly define your product or service while articulating how you stand out and what makes you special. Determining the demand and size of your market and setting achievable sales goals and targets. Reflect on yourself, your relationships, and your motivations before you take the plunge. For many people, they need stability, regular income, certainty, and in general, are not workaholics. For those people, it is way easier with less stress and financial risk to just work for someone else with a set schedule, hours, and salary. When you work for yourself, your success is directly correlated to how badly you want it and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get there.

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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