How This Chef Navigated a $80,000 Turnaround for His Business Troy Guard of TAG Restaurant Group discusses transforming from chef to owner, asking for what you want, and the power of storytelling.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Troy Guard was happy with being a top chef, but that was not profitable. Luckily, he was able to transition to business owner using tips from mentors and investors that helped him turn things around.
  • Asking for help can be extremely difficult for anyone, but Troy says it can be the difference between failure and success.
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Restaurant owners can still be involved in the kitchen without being completely hands-on.

Troy Guard, the founder of TAG Restaurant Group, encountered a number of challenges during his transition from top chef to business owner.

Tag Restaurant Group is a Denver-based collection of "extraordinary dining experiences." They operate TAG, Guard and Grace, Los Chingones Badass Mexican, Bubu, and HashTAG.

After becoming accustomed to being hands-on as a chef, Guard was used to taking control and tried to do so in every aspect of being a restaurant owner. Unfortunately, that approach caused his business to hemorrhage money.

Admittedly, he was too trusting and didn't ensure his workers were following through. Once out of the rut, he was able to navigate a $80,000 turnaround in his business.

"What I've learned is to trust people, but verify," says Guard in a conversation with Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media. "Just like if you're going to rent an apartment, or a house, or a car, the numbers gotta work. So that was a wide-opening experience that humbled me immensely."

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get

Troy Guard knows it's sometimes hard to ask for help in the business world.

Recounting his own hesitations in seeking favors from vendors, he also underscored its benefits. Overcoming this reluctance led to profitable outcomes. His experience serves as a lesson in the entrepreneurial world, emphasizing the importance of proactive engagement and leveraging relationships to enhance business prospects.

Related: Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media talks Toast and Digital Hospitality

"If you don't ask, you don't get it," emphasizes Troy Guard. "I used to hate asking my vendors for stuff. They're going to give it to me. All I have to do is ask."

Despite acknowledging his limited technological prowess, Guard highlights the paramount importance of sharing compelling stories about his business.

He recognizes the power of digital platforms in conveying messages and creating connections with the audience.

Guard expresses a genuine enthusiasm for sharing stories online. He stresses the significance of seizing opportunities to share narratives, whether about charity initiatives, special meals, or personal stories of employees.

"I love to share stories. I think having these devices is amazing. To be able to share thoughts and pictures and excitement and stories, I think it's tremendous."

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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.

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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