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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.

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.

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.



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.

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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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