Local restaurant Rachel’s Kitchen has come a long way from its sole storefront in 2006.
Today, the fresh casual restaurant has eight locations across the valley, and is looking to expand outside the state. Owner Debbie Roxarzade, who first made a name for herself in the restaurant industry in Beverly Hills, discussed the company history and future with the Review-Journal.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What sort of lessons did you learn while working in California?
It taught me a lot about business and opening locations. Also, a lot of the menu items at Rachel’s Kitchen came from other restaurants. A lot of recipes were tried and true.
The labor market is a little bit different out here. Vegas is more transient, so finding good team members that last a long time is more difficult. Now, there’s just as much competition as there was in LA, but starting off 12 years ago, it was difficult. The city is growing so much more, there wasn’t as much (in 2006). It took time for things to pop up. (Finding qualified workers is) an ongoing challenge, but as we’ve grown as a brand it’s becoming easier.
Compared to L.A., (Las Vegas is) a lot quieter and busier and more affordable.
What sort of challenges have you faced as a business owner over the years?
All of them, you name it. Every step has been a different challenge. Challenges with construction, the challenges of making it through when we had a bad recession out here.
(The recession) was definitely tough. I think the one thing that I had going for me was a lot of people cut out fine dining and expensive meals and would eat more affordable meals. We fell in that category. Instead of going to a sit-down restaurant and spending $25 on lunch, they would come to us instead. It was about the team working really hard (to get by). I worked a ton more hours, I was probably working 40 hours in the restaurant and 20-plus hours on everything that went around it. We cut down on costs a lot more to survive to the next step.
Depending on what the challenge is, you need to continue to stay focused. Try not to get overwhelmed. Get it resolved as best you can, utilize people on your team. Be open to suggestions, and be focused on the end result.
What’s in store for Rachel’s Kitchen’s future?
We are working with some groups to grow our brand outside of Las Vegas. We’re not looking at this point to grow further in Vegas. We don’t want to overcapitalize what we have going on in Las Vegas. I want to grow the brand and continue to do what I’m doing and make a name that’s known throughout the region, if not the U.S.
Now, I’m working with a couple of groups and trying to figure out what next steps make the most sense. We’re looking for operating partners, people that live in the new markets that have restaurant experience that would manage and operate locations for us, or franchise partners who would franchise for us. We’re looking heavily with people in the Phoenix area, and also in Salt Lake City area, areas in Southern California, and we have interest in the Reno market as well. They’re close to home, so we can travel back and forth easily. We’re not opposed to other markets.
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