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The Restaurateur Who Created a Safe Space for Celebrities to Eat in Peace in NYC Sei Less founder Dara Mirjahangiry discusses social media networking, "white glove" service, and making waves in the media space.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Dara Mirjahangiry began his hospitality career prior to the digital revolution spurred on by social media. However, the interactions he has with others were enhanced by the implementation of digital media strategies.
  • Creating a white glove experience for a wide variety of patrons could be an extremely difficult task to accomplish. Dara Mirjahangiry has successfully done so by leading with food, comfort, and hospitality.
  • Every business has the capability of being a media company. Dara Mirjahangiry and partners have seen value in the podcast space, and are creating a hub for those participating in podcast endeavors.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The popular Sei Less restaurant proves that "white glove" service is possible at scale.

Dara Mirjahangiry is hospitality veteran and owner/managing partner of the New York City Asian Fusion hotspot Sei Less. The restaurant became a reality after a chance conversation between Mirjahangiry and then-Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant. "He (Durant) was like, you know, we need a clubhouse in New York. After the game, somewhere where I can go and feel like it's almost like a membership club for the culture," Dara Mirjahangiry recounted to Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media.

Those words fired Mirjahangiry up. Sei Less was opened soon after in New York City in January 2022 and it has been a staple in the New York fine dining scene ever since.

Social Media Storytelling

Before the digital revolution of the 2000s, Mirjahangiry relied on the person-to-person networking that was available before social media. And when social media technology came about, he learned it was a powerful way to enhance interactions and build brands. He tapped into that knowledge to build his own brand after successfully doing so for other restaurants.

Rleated: How Do You Start a Successful Restaurant? Obsess Over the Tiniest Details, Says This Entrepreneurial Chef.

"I built my following, built a brand for myself. And that's really what networking is," says Mirjahangiry. "It's just being able to connect the dots."

Those connections became the foundation for Sei Less' customer base, which has grown to include some of the most notable names in sports, entertainment, and music, including Cardi B and 50 Cent.

Dara Mirjahangiry's commitment to hospitality excellence extends to crafting white-glove experiences for his diverse patrons. "It starts with the food," he explains. "Giving them an outlet where we have private dining rooms, and somewhere that they could come feel comfortable."

Beyond dining

As the business grows and more work is conducted within the walls of Sei Less, Mirjahangiry has recognized the potential of having an all-encompassing space. Specifically, he wants to create an avenue for media endeavors.

He and his partners are spearheading ventures into the podcasting realm and aim to create a curated hub for content enthusiasts, providing a platform for diverse voices and topics. "I do see the opportunity, in terms of the entrepreneur in me and the business side of things, of really curating the podcast," says Mirjahangiry.

Related: This Chef Fled a War-Torn Country as a Child. Now She's Helping Other Refugees Rebuild Their Lives.

"We have some media partners, some technology partners, that obviously see the value in what we do. We have the ability to drive traffic to some podcasts."

With an entrepreneurial spirit and a keen eye for innovation, Dara Mirjahangiry is helping fuse the landscape of hospitality and media. His unwavering commitment to excellence, coupled with his ability to forge meaningful connections, sets him apart as a trailblazer in the industry.

"I think the beauty of what we do at Sei Less is really bringing people together from different walks of life that have common interests."

About Restaurant Influencers

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.

Restaurant Influencers is also supported by Ovation. Learn how Ovation's Guest Feedback Platform actually drives revenue with actionable insights here.

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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