I wish I knew I could succeed in the food industry without previous experience.
I wish I knew the location is the key for your success.
I wish I knew one bad employee can ruin even the most perfect system.
I wish I knew that I don’t need a chef to run a restaurant.
I wish I knew the food industry would change my whole life for the very best.
As part of our series about the lessons from influential ‘TasteMakers’, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Monique Patriota of The Hummus Republic. This was founded by middle eastern natives who wanted to bring the culture and the food of their homeland to the booming food industry in the U.S. Fast forward 8 years from their initial launch in 2013, The Hummus Republic is now franchising to individuals all over the country. Former manager at The Hummus Republic, Monique Patriota, is the proud owner of a HR franchise, and is just expanding by the day.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restaurateur?
Thank you so much for having me. I graduated and obtained my degree in marketing back in Brazil and I never imagined being in the restaurant business. Until the day I walked inside Hummus Republic, I started off as a regular employee and I completely fell in love with the food and the structure of the business. I couldn’t believe how genius the system was.
Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to working with that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?
The Hummus Republic serves modern Mediterranean food. It truly combines the deep flavors of middle eastern cuisine with the modern American lifestyle.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a restaurateur? What was the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
The most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me is when one day during my lunch break, a customer stopped by my table and said “you’re a smart young woman who deserves better than to be working in something like this. I just might be able to help you with a better job.” He then asked for my contact information; that’s when things got entertaining. I unlocked my white Mustang and grabbed my business card. He couldn’t believe that was the car that I drove. I could see how surprised he was, and to make things even more amusing, he looked at the card and said, “No way! You own Hummus Republic?” I replied with, “Yes sir I do but, hit me up sometime, I’m always down for a second job.” He looked at me and got very flustered and walked away. All in all, the moral of the story is to never judge a book by its cover.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?
When I first started, I was a regular employee, however when I became a manager, I had no idea how to train a big team. I found it difficult to manage older people or people who dealt with more experience than me in the food industry. Day after day, I worked hard to master the management skills as the owner and to find my ground to be respected as a young entrepreneur.
In your experience, what is the key to creating a dish that customers are crazy about?
In the process of creating a marvelous new dish, I only use fresh and organic ingredients that people are familiar with to combine them in a different concept and create new exotic flavors.
Personally, what is the ‘perfect meal for you’?
My perfect dish brings together multiple flavors, colors, and textures, having a new explosion of pleasure and flavor in each bite. This is precisely why I fell in love with Hummus Republic.
Where does your inspiration for creating come from? Is there something that you turn to for a daily creativity boost?
My inspiration comes from studying the best dishes from multiple cultures around the world to bring together a variety of flavors, creating a unique tasteful dish.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? What impact do you think this will have?
The biggest project I am currently working on is the opening of over 40 Hummus Republic franchises around the U.S, the impact is simply amazing! We are making high quality food accessible for the public all over the U.S. We’ve made it possible for everyone to afford a healthy lifestyle. At Hummus Republic we offer more than food, we sell self-love.
What advice would you give to other restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout?
My advice to other restaurateurs is to analyze and choose carefully the best location based on your target and make sure customer service is “five stars!”
Thank you for all that. Now we are ready for the main question of the interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started as a Restaurateur” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. I wish I knew I could succeed in the food industry without previous experience.
2. I wish I knew the location is the key for your success.
3. I wish I knew one bad employee can ruin even the most perfect system.
4. I wish I knew that I don’t need a chef to run a restaurant.
5. I wish I knew the food industry would change my whole life for the very best.
What’s the one dish people have to try if they visit your establishment?
It is hard to pick only one, however I would go with falafel since it’s vegan and gluten free; it makes it a super food and it also known as the best in town.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger
The movement I want to inspire is “fast food” can be healthy food. I want to let people know that they can have a complete meal as quick as any American fast food that isn’t just delicious but also nutritious. Hummus Republic has developed a system that’s able to deliver high quality food quick and easily to your busy lifestyle. Taking care of yourself has never tasted so good!
Thank you so much for these insights. This was very inspirational!