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Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins of Brooklyn Chop House on Opening Restaurant Doors Interview with the Brooklyn Chop House owner and franchising expert about working in the music industry, opening restaurants, and creating avenues for black entrepreneurs.

By Shawn P. Walchef

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways from this episode:

Just Keep SwingingRobert "Don Pooh" Cummins has played a huge role in the careers of some of music's most well-known names. As a franchisor and entrepreneurial leader, he continues to look for people who exhibit the willingness to persevere.

The Jamie Foxx Moment — Celebrities frequent Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins' Brooklyn Chop House restaurant. One amazing night saw the multi-talented entertainers provide exposure for the brand that rivals a Super Bowl ad placement.

A Mission to Diversify — Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins got into the food industry to diversify his portfolio. Now a mainstay in the space, he is on a mission to increase access and close opportunity gaps.


Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins has enjoyed success from music to food. He's done it all by having a keen eye for talent and a willingness to keep trying.

As a veteran music industry titan, working with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Nas, and Diddy, Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins' life and success has provided him with a bevy of experience and a litany of cool stories. One story involves The Notorious B.I.G adding the "Don" to Robert's childhood nickname to create the moniker he still uses today.

His nickname is fun, but Robert Cummins is no joke in entrepreneurship. While still in the music industry, Don Pooh had the foresight to diversify his portfolio as music was rapidly changing from the days of physical copies and anticipated releases.

"You know, it's entertainment and food and restaurants and hospitality. They're all pretty much synonymous with each other because obviously as an executive, I was always, you know, entertaining people at restaurants," says Don Pooh about his logic for diving into the food industry on the Restaurant Influencers podcast hosted by Shawn Walchef of CaliBBQ Media.

It turned out to be the right move.

One of his first deals as a franchisee gave Robert Cummins the opportunity to develop 16 Papa John stores in New York City. From there, he successfully opened two Checker's franchises in NYC.

With his proven track record, Don Pooh embarked on an ambitious endeavor to make IHOP a community staple in Brooklyn. He accomplished that when he opened the first restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn in 2007.

Ever the visionary entrepreneur, Cummins, his Partner David Thomas, and Director of Operations Stratis Morfogen, opened the extremely popular Brooklyn Chop House in 2019. The restaurant garnered almost instant recognition.

Brooklyn Chop House is frequented by the likes of Jamie Foxx, Cardi B and Offset, and many more music and entertainment's elite. In fact, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, an automat offshoot of Brooklyn Chop House, is partnering with one of its most famous patrons, Patti LaBelle, to bring their incredible delicacies to the freezer aisle of Wal-Mart.

"We keep going," Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins says of his perseverance. "We try again, we lose again, we try again. And you don't get here by winning all the time. No one won all the time."

Maybe not. But Don Pooh has certainly had some tremendous wins and is positioned to bolster his personal win column while teaching others to do the same with his upcoming memoir entitled "How I Hop".


NOMINATE A RESTAURANT INFLUENCER — Do you know someone who is killing it on social media? Let us know by emailing or sending the @calibbqmedia team a DM on social media.


Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Popmenu is also a sponsor of the Restaurant Influencers podcast. We wanted to share with our audience this powerful opportunity to help your restaurant reclaim the power of your phone now. Learn more about Popmenu Answering.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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