Lauren and Wyatt Bailey and Kris and Craig DeMarco didn’t have a grand plan for their business. Armed with a love of historic buildings and great food, they co-founded their community-based restaurant business, Upward Projects, in Phoenix.
“Our goal with each restaurant is to find a strong neighborhood community and become an important part of the people’s lives there,” says Lauren.
More than 15 years later, Upward Projects, named one of Inc.’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in 2015, boasts five industrial wine cafes, a neighborhood pub-style restaurant, an ice cream shop, an artisan pizza joint and two scratch-kitchen taco houses. The company focuses on reusing historically and architecturally relevant buildings that are integral parts of local neighborhoods.
A member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Bailey says she knew she needed a supportive group of peers to encourage her and help her persevere through the peaks and valleys of a quickly expanding company.
Upward Projects opened its first restaurant outside of Arizona in Denver last year and plans to keep expanding. Her advice for hopeful restaurateurs: Know what you’re getting into. “[Running a restaurant] is not hanging out with your friends at a bar. It’s a combination of exciting, fast-paced fun, incredible risk, long hours, penny-pinching, creative thinking, navigating regulations and having an undying quest for consistency.”
3 ways you can set yourself up for success, too:
1. Learn about the industry you’re getting involved with before you dive in.
2. Get creative about your spaces; just because a building is old doesn’t mean it’s useless.
3. Immerse yourself in the community before you open shop. The surrounding businesses could be your biggest supporters—or your biggest obstacles.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.