Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & bev, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Schroeder, owner of Mother's Bistro & Bar, a feel-at-home foodie paradise in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Tell us all about your business...
A beautiful full-service restaurant and bar that serves home cooking from mothers around the world for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I had the idea for Mother's Bistro back in 1993 when I was working as Products and Licensing Manager for Weight Watchers International. I'd work 13 hour days at my job and was always get take-out food for my family because there was no time to cook when I got home at 7 pm.
One day I had the epiphany that while I could get pizza, Chinese, Mexican, and Thai food, for example, there was no place to get "mother food;" the kind of food a mother would make for her family if only she had the time.
I decided that the world needed such a place, and I enrolled at The Culinary Institute of American to learn what I needed to know to open a restaurant. I studied for two years and worked in four-star restaurants in New York and France, all the while envisioning how it would apply to my dream restaurant.
I met someone and moved to Portland, Oregon, and worked as a chef for two years to earn my "cheffy" stripes. Finally, in 2000, I opened Mother's Bistro & Bar with accolades and was declared "Restaurant of the Year" in my first year of business. To this day, no other restaurant is focused on home cooking from mothers around the world, so we remain unique in the cluttered culinary market.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We grew our business from nothing to feeding over 1000 people for brunch on a busy weekend day in only 7 hours.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
Managing people is very hard. One has to motivate them and show them why they should come into work every day and work as hard as is needed at Mother's.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
- Work every job in the business you want to launch so you can do anything and no one has you by the proverbial "balls."
- Work as hard as those working for you and lead by example; don't ask someone to do what you can't or won't.
- Research and create something different. The world doesn't need yet another pizzeria, for example, unless you're in a unique location or have a unique product.
What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?
Hiring the best people and keeping them is key! Focus on making it better and polishing the apple...Don't diversify; make your business the best it can be.
Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs and best business resources/books?
I stay up-to-date on what's happening in my industry through social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and trade publications. I follow fellow restaurateurs and keep up with what's happening in our community that way.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Part of the reason for my success is I'm at my restaurant as much as possible, ensuring everything tastes great and is served with love. I care about everything we do and only hire people who are personable, caring, and want to serve. That way, we all are in sync and our guests get the best experience possible and keep them coming back.
Where can people find you online?
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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