Chef Joe Isidori of Arthur & Sons NY Italian on Finding Your Authentic Voice

Interview with restaurateur Joe Isidori about opening Arthur & Sons NY Italian, modern restaurant culture, and leveraging social media as a wellness tool.

learn more about Shawn P. Walchef

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Authenticity Makes the Most Sense - Joe Isidori is unapologetically "New York Italian". However, it wasn't always that way. While building his brand, he found his voice after "shedding the armor" of what he thought he should be, and did what made the most sense: be himself.
  • Gaining Balance by Leveraging Social Media - Joe Isidori's father Arthur was a huge influence on him as a man and restaurateur. One of the lessons he learned from his father is, despite how hard it is to run a restaurant business, you need to take care of yourself and your family. Luckily, the digital age of social media has allowed Joe's presence to grow without him spending every waking moment in his various restaurants.
  • Being Yourself Makes you Bulletproof - Finding his voice has helped Joe Isidori build an impeccable empire and a worldwide restaurant portfolio. When asked how he did it, his advice to up-and-coming restaurant owners can be applied universally: Cut the BS and get over yourself.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways:

Authenticity Makes the Most Sense - Joe Isidori is unapologetically "New York Italian". However, it wasn't always that way. While building his brand, he found his voice after "shedding the armor" of what he thought he should be, and did what made the most sense: be himself.

Gaining Balance by Leveraging Social Media - Joe Isidori's father Arthur was a huge influence on him as a man and restaurateur. One of the lessons he learned from his father is, despite how hard it is to run a restaurant business, you need to take care of yourself and your family. Luckily, the digital age of social media has allowed Joe's presence to grow without him spending every waking moment in his various restaurants.

Being Yourself Makes you Bulletproof - Finding his voice has helped Joe Isidori build an impeccable empire and a worldwide restaurant portfolio. When asked how he did it, his advice to up-and-coming restaurant owners can be applied universally: Cut the BS and get over yourself.

***

Chef Joe Isidori learned a secret to life that has resonated with him ever since: "Knock it off and cut the BS out."

Thanks to leaning into his authenticity online, the Michelin starred restaurateur and founder of Arthur & Sons in NYC has built a global brand and expanding food empire.

For Joe Isidori, the key to it all has been authenticity.

"And at the end of the day, it's all going to be about one thing. It's going to be about authenticity. It's New York Italian," Isidori passionately explains about his food to podcast host Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "Which means it's got that attitude, it's got that flavor, it's got that authenticity."

After the death of his father Arthur (or Artie), who was his inspiration for being a chef and business owner, Isidori searched internally for happiness. That search materialized to a tribute restaurant entitled Black Tap that harkened back to his childhood days of grabbing a cheeseburger and milkshake on Tuesdays with his father.

While the popularity of Black Tap grew quickly, it skyrocketed when he introduced Crazy Shakes after following his wife's wishes.

Despite worldwide acclaim online for his decadent, over the top shakes, Isidori found himself struggling again to find his voice.

"The day I started Black Tap as a memory I had with my father. And unfortunately, that memory had faded away and Black Tap had become something else. It was eclipsed by the milkshake. It was eclipsed by worldwide fame." he says of the experience. "I decided that I was going to just shed the armor, throw it all away. And I was just going to be myself, and that's what I did. And that was the game plan."

That game plan has taken Joe Isidori's empire to even new heights. His NY Italian restaurant Arthur & Sons has amassed an Instagram following that has many followers based purely on Isidori being himself and putting his authentic experience on full display.

Fortunately, the social media influence of today's marketplace has also freed him up to be more present in his family's lives and provided a level of balance he hadn't previously experienced.

"My father gave his shirt off his back. He worked his ass off. He made people happy. He did nothing but bring joy into people's lives and a lot of restaurants. The end of the day, when I buried him, he had $265 in his pocket, two packs of Marlboros and those lottery tickets." says Joe Isidori.

"What social media has done and what I do as a chef and everything; I don't live and die in my restaurants anymore, but I make sure I run my business accordingly and I make sure everyone's happy and I make sure they keep coming back. Social media allows me to do that because they still feel me through social media, even if I'm not in a dining room with them."

The aspirations to be better came from Isidori's father. He was a man of the people and the people loved him for it. As for Joe Isidori, the kid who started cooking while listening to Wu-Tang Clan, he has since realized what his dad meant by "chicken parm pays the bills."

Cut the BS. Be yourself.

***

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Shawn P. Walchef

Shawn P. Walchef is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, he has grown his San Diego restaurant and media company into a global brand using digital tools and smartphone storytelling. 

As a restaurateur who opened during the Great Recession, Shawn learned to use the power of the Internet to stay in business. During the Pandemic, Cali BBQ developed a scalable growth plan that is three times more profitable than the traditional full-service restaurant model.
Email shawn@calibbq.media to get in touch.

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