In 2004, Moses Sabina joined his brother, Alec, and they embarked on a gastronomic tour, eating their way across America’s finest diners, barbecue fests, soul food joints, and fish frys. Their goal was to learn how a good neighborhood restaurant becomes a food institution. Today, Moses and his brother have spent the past decade practicing what they’ve learned with their restaurant, Hot Suppa, located in Portland, ME.
In this episode we will discuss: Always trying to make things better for guests and employees. Running a “neighborhood restaurant.” The desire to work for the independent restaurants. Independent v. Corporate company mentality. People-dependant businesses v. Systems-dependant businesses. Working with family. Owning real estate is important for building equity. Taking the time to establish your concept before you put its in motion. The importance of choosing the right market for your concept. Not having financial room for error can help you take your time in establishing a business. You need to be at your restaurant, especially in the beginning. Finding your life-balence. Making people happy through hospitality everyday.
Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.
It can always be better. how can we make it better? Even the smallest details can improve a guest’s experience. It gives a sense of constantly moving forward.
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Which “it factor” habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
Constantly questioning things. Always considering how to make things better.
What is your biggest weakness?
Marketing. We choose to invest money in other things over marketing.
What is one piece of advice you have for leading others?
When confronted with an indue bite your tongue and gather all the information before you react.
What’s one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
What do your parents do and do you have siblings? Where do you fall in the order of your siblings? What are your hobbies?
What’s a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
We lose business because our space is small. We have 40 seats (60 when the patio is open) and we’re considering expanding somehow.
What’s one thing (besides food) your restaurant does well and separates you from other restaurants?
We get involved in the community. People in town know that I live in town and care about the community.
What’s one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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What’s one piece of technology you’ve adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?
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?
Have a more defined concept and mission statement when you begin.
What is one question you think should be added to this interview?
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made? We took on the staff from the previous business that occupied the Hot Suppa! space. The owner asked us to do it. They were coming from a culture in a restaurant that we didn’t care for.
Thanks for Listening!
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Huge thanks to Moses Sabina for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!