225: Frank Bonanno | If You Open a Restaurant to Make Money It Wont Work


frankFrank Bonanno found his passion early, working in restaurants most of his life. After he graduated from the School of Finance at the University of Denver, Bonanno revisited that passion for restaurants by earning a second degree at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY. In the late 90’s when he wasn’t being paid to cook, he was staging throughout cities in both Europe and in the States. In 2001 he opened Mizuna, rated by Zagat as one of the top restaurants… not just in Colorado, but in the nation. Today, Under his restaurant group, Bonanno Concepts, Bonanno operates a total of 10 concepts in the Denver Colorado area. On top of all this, he’s the author of two books and the Host of Chef Driven on PBS.

Show notes…

Today’s Sponsor

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Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

“Work hard and love your family.”

What’s Your Purpose, or Your “WHY”?

To have fun and enjoy every day. To try new things and experience the challenge.

Your “It” Factors

  • Extreme motivation.
  • having a great team of people and being great to his team of people.
  • Constantly doing new and different things that challenge and provide an opportunity for his team.
  • Focused on teaching and developing people.
  • Genuinely likes what he does.

Career Challenge or Failure

Bonanno has made the mistake a few times of creating a dish that absolutely flopped. He attributes this to making the dish for himself, and not for his guest. No matter how awesome you think something sounds and how good you think it would be, people won’t buy it if they don’t understand it. You need to have something on the plate that people understand.

When opening a restaurant in the suburbs, Bonanno failed to adapt to what the people wanted. They continued to do what worked in the city, outside of the city and the people just didn’t bite and Bonanno wasn’t willing to budge. At the end of the day, all that matters is what the guest wants.

Knowledge bombs

1. What advice do you have for funding a restaurant?

  • Chef Bonanno went to the banks to get his initial funding, but he admits that times have changed since then and recognizes that it isn’t as easy as it once was.
  • Build a big track record with your bank and save money.
  • Hit up friends and family first, then go to the banks. Banks like to see that you have something and then they’ll bridge the gap.
  • Tie your personal brand to the brand of someone successful.


2. Success is so dependent on your people. Whats your advice on hiring, managing and retaining people.

  • Hire like minded people who want be successful.
  • Put yourself out there so you people can find you.

3. What are some current challenges or industry challenges you see coming?

  • The high demand for skilled workers.

4. How do you balance work and life?

  • Do what you love.

5. Recommended book?

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

CLICK  HERE to get a FREE audio version of this Book

6. With all the knowledge you have now if you could go back in time and give your past self one piece of business advice, What would it be and why?

  • Get clear about your mission and stick to it.
  • Know where your money is.

7. What is one question you think should be added to this interview?

Q: Do you still love what you’re doing?

A: Yes!

Contact Info

Website: www.bonannoconcepts.com

Thanks for Listening!

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Huge thanks to Chef Frank Bonanno for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!