Opening his first restaurant at the age of 21, he finds great success. He looks to expand his business shortly after but is met with many failures and lessons learned. Through those lessons he builds a better restaurant business and is able to find the benefits of owning his own real estate.
Key Points on From Failure To Success In The Restaurant World
- Chris started his career working at Boston Pizza in a very systematized franchise in Canada. Later he got a job as a cook in the steakhouse, which helped him learn how to cook well.
- These different experiences gave him the skills to open his restaurant 4 years later.
- He bought a restaurant that was going out of business at just 21 years old.
- Chris made the restaurant very successful and ran it for 8 years. He also started a real estate company on the side.
- One day a restaurant just across the street was going out of business. It was a franchise breakfast place and he decided to buy it.
- However, it turned out that the previous owners fabricated the books and the restaurant was losing $200k a year.
- For 7 months, Chris was working 20 hours a day 7 days a week to keep up with the restaurants. One day he crashed on the couch and didn’t wake up for 5 days straight. This made him realize that he had to change something with these 2 businesses as they were unmanageable.
- He eventually sold his steakhouse which took him 2 years to do and got out of the franchise too.
- His plan was to start buying restaurants and businesses, rebuild and resell them, and become financially independent.
- Chris invested in various properties, an environmentally friendly hemp cinder block business, and some storage condominiums.
- He recently started options trading and he really enjoys it.
- Who is your success role model? Charlie Munger and Robert Kiyosaki
- What is your biggest success? Getting started early in life and managing those numbers.
- What does a typical day look like for you? He takes his niece to school a few times a week. Then he does options trading for a couple of hours and eats lunch with his family. In the afternoon he researches companies, checks on his companies, and rests with his family. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he has pilot school and plays hockey 4-5 times a week.
- What’s your favorite quote? “If you don’t learn how to make money while you sleep, you’ll work till you die.” – Warren Buffet
- What are your hobbies? He likes pipe boarding, kayaking, and taking road trips.
- What is the best business book you’ve read? Richard Templar’s Rules book series.
- If there was one key piece of advice you could leave our listeners with about achieving success, what would it be? Keep a very close eye on the numbers. Even if you’re doing what you’re really passionate about, if the numbers aren’t making sense, you’re really not getting ahead.
His phone number: 17808701169
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Chris had a successful steakhouse restaurant before he transitioned to real estate and business investing. Now he has about $30M worth of real estate and he is not planning to slow down anytime soon.
Chris started his career in a franchise pizzeria, Boston Pizza in Canada. He worked his way up to the management level. This restaurant was very data-driven. He got to learn everything about food cost, labor cost, and how to manage a restaurant by the numbers but didn’t learn much about cooking. As it was a franchise, the food arrived to them pretty much ready to go and he didn’t have to develop cooking skills.
Eventually, Chris got a job offer from a high-end steakhouse, that was the opposite of Boston Pizza. He had to learn how to make all the food from scratch.
These 2 different experiences shaped him when he opened his own restaurant 4 years later. He knew how to set up a system and also how to cook well.
A restaurant owner at 21
Chris always knew that at one point in his life he wanted to own a business. His father and grandfather were both business owners, so he grew up with the idea. Because he learned how to cook and manage a restaurant, it made sense to get into the restaurant business.
He had a catalyst moment when one day he accidentally slipped in the restaurant’s kitchen and spilled boiling water all over his back. For 6 weeks, he couldn’t be around heat at all, so he finally had some time in his hands. One day he saw an ad in the newspaper about a steakhouse. The distressed seller wanted to sell the restaurant quickly as he was about to go bankrupt.
The restaurant was 4000 sq ft at a perfect highway location, but it was doing only an average of $400 a day. Just turning on the lights in the building every day cost $400. It only had 3 staff, a cook, a waitress, and one dishwasher. It was understaffed and undermanaged, but Chris saw the potential in it.
During his recovery, the steakhouse he worked at closed. So he really felt like there was no turning back, and went on with purchasing the restaurant. It took him around 3 months and during that time he was also working there to have a paycheck.
Purchasing a steakhouse
Chris was only 21 years old at this point. He approached the restaurant’s real estate agent about buying the restaurant. His assistant laughed at him first, because she didn’t take him seriously for his age. Eventually, he had an hour-long meeting with the realtor who had no doubts about his abilities. Chris knew the industry standards in the restaurant business. He knew that 97% of restaurants fail in the first 3 years in Canada. But he also knew how to deal with people and how to manage different types of restaurants.
Chris had worked 12 hours a day since high school. He went to school in the morning and had 2 different jobs. In the last semester of his high school he was making $4k a month. His father saw he didn’t pay enough attention to school. So he encouraged him to save most of the money so he could at least open a business one day.
Chris started to put away $400 that he couldn’t touch at all and an additional $800 monthly to open a business. His dad told him that whatever he saved up, he would double it. He ended up saving up $15k and that was enough to start his business.
The purchase consisted of 3 categories: the building and land, the equipment, and the business. Eventually with loans and the help of his dad he could buy the restaurant. And all the staff from the steakhouse where he previously worked came with him.
On their launch day, which as a Thursday, they did $1.2k which was already triple the amount of the previous average daily sale. The next day, on Friday they did $4k in sales. And a week later on Saturday, they reached $6k.
Buying a breakfast place
A few years into the business, another restaurant came up for sale just across the street. It was a similar distressed sale as the first restaurant, except this time it was a franchise. It was also a breakfast place, so he would get a complimentary business. He could have a breakfast crowd and a supper crowd and during lunch, both of the restaurants could be busy. The downfall of them not competing with each other was that running both created really long working days for Chris.
At this point, he had a real estate company on the side. The real estate company owned the restaurant and his steakhouse paid rent to it. He used equity to buy the new restaurant, which he paid $1M for. He bought the building under his real estate company and his operational company ran the restaurant. Essentially, he was in control of his own tenancy.
Once Chris took over the restaurant, he realized that the previous owner fabricated the books. The books they showed him said that the restaurant was basically breaking even, maybe losing around $10k-$15k a year. Chris looked at the numbers and based on industry standards, he estimated the restaurant could make $200k-$250k a year. However, because of the fabricated books, the restaurant was losing $200k a year.
In the first 7 months of running 2 restaurants simultaneously, Chris still thought that if he could manage the franchise and make it profitable.
His daily routine at the time was to get up at 4:30 AM in the morning, go to the breakfast restaurant, cook breakfast, and manage the staff. Then at 11:00 AM he went over the steakhouse, cooked lunch, and went home around 2:00 PM in the afternoon to get some sleep. Then he went back to the breakfast place, then to the steakhouse at 6:00 PM, and finally back to the breakfast place to close at midnight. And he did that every single day.
One day, he went home for an afternoon nap like any other day and he didn’t wake up for 5 days straight. He had 99+ missed calls because nobody knew where he was. This made him realize that he worked too hard, and this lifestyle was not manageable anymore.
Chris read through his franchise agreement and found a loophole in it. It said that if he gave the franchise 30 days notice, he could essentially sell them back all of his equipment at an appraised value.
They would have two choices. They could purchase that equipment, take that store on as a corporate store, and sign a lease with his real estate company. Or they could refuse that, take their sign down and let Chris open his own breakfast restaurant at the location.
The franchise eventually signed a 10-year lease agreement with him, which more than covered his mortgage. He was 26 at this point and mortgage-free.
Soon he also sold his other restaurant. It took him some time but after 2 years he sold the steakhouse and became free.
Getting into real estate
Chris kept his real estate business and even dived more into it after selling his restaurants. He invested some of the money he got for his restaurant in various properties. One of them is an 18-unit condo building in Calgary, Alberta.
He had an interesting success story with a piece of land. One time he found a piece of commercial land that was on the market for over a year without any interested buyers. He wanted to build a restaurant on it and later resell it, so he locked down the deal.
Just when he bought the land, someone called him who was also very interested and offered him $100k more than what he paid for it. They made a deal, but the buyer couldn’t put together the money on time. He had to pay an extra $10k every month he was late. Chris earned $130k on this deal without doing anything.
Recently, Chris likes to invest in different businesses. He invested in a company called Just BioFiber, which makes environmentally-friendly hemp cinder blocks. Chris bought shares for 15 cents a share. They recently heard that someone wants to buy $40M worth of shares at 45 cents a share. He owns $3.2M in shares.
He also partnered in a storage condominium which is a building that has been subdivided into self-storage spaces. It is a new storage concept and he sees big potential in it. According to Chris, every time you take a piece of real estate and break it into smaller pieces, you will make money.
The bright future
His big goal when he was first starting out in business was to eventually make $250k a month in passive income. He wanted to reach that by age 45. He is 10 years younger but very close to reaching his dream.
Chris started options trading recently. He likes to spend a couple of hours a day with it. He has a lot of fun with it while also making a lot of money, so he got very involved. On average his getting a 7% return a week, which makes this hobby very profitable.
Chris likes to travel. He lived 2 years in his motorhome traveling around the southern US. He also did a 6-month tour through South America. Last winter he started his pilot license and wants to finish that soon. In the future, he would like to travel more with his girlfriend.