Have You Eaten Yet?

Chef Ruben Rodriguez: A Conversation From Nai Restaurant in Manhattan

February 28, 2022 Kassata Bollman / Chef Ruben Rodriguez Episode 23
Have You Eaten Yet?
Chef Ruben Rodriguez: A Conversation From Nai Restaurant in Manhattan
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

New Episode With Chef Ruben Rodriguez. 

He Joins Us From Manhattan.

Currently He’s Chef & Owner Of East Village Tapas Restaurant Nai.

He Also Owns The Mexican-Inspired Spot Amigo By Nai.

And He’s Currently In The Process Of Launching Cafe Emilia…A Vegetable And Seafood Focused Restaurant And 

Kobo…..Which Is Mediterranean Inspired.

He Grew Up In Spain. In Fact His Parents Owned Restaurants And Were Involved In The Food World There.

And It’s That Upbringing That Shapes His Cuisine.

We Discuss:

✅ Expansion…Breaking Down The Motivation Behind It.

✅ Landlords, Brokers And When It Might Make Sense To Stop Paying Rent And Just Relocate.

✅ Opening A Second Restaurant During A Pandemic.

✅ Bouncing Back After A Near-Fatal Car Accident And How That Sparked A Different Perspective On Life. 

https://www.nairestaurant.com/

https://www.instagram.com/naitapas/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/rubenboilsoctopus/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/amigonyc/?hl=en

[[MUSIC]]


I’M KASSATA BOLLMAN. 

TODAY MY GUEST IS CHEF RUBEN RODRIGUEZ. 

HE JOINS US FROM MANHATTAN…..


WHERE...CURRENTLY….. HE’S CHEF & OWNER OF EAST VILLAGE TAPAS RESTAURANT NAI…..HE ALSO OWNS THE MEXICAN-INSPIRED SPOT….. AMIGO BY NAI….


AND HE’S CURRENTLY IN THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING…. CAFE EMILIA….. 

A VEGETABLE AND SEAFOOD FOCUSED RESTAURANT…… AND 

KOBO…..WHICH IS MEDITERRANEAN INSPIRED…… 


HE GREW UP IN SPAIN….IN FACT….HIS PARENTS OWNED RESTAURANTS…. AND WERE INVOLVED IN THE FOOD WORLD THERE…..


AND IT’S THAT UPBRINGING THAT SHAPES HIS CUISINE.


TODAY WE’LL BE DISCUSSING…. 


EXPANSION…….BREAKING DOWN THE MOTIVATION BEHIND IT?…..

LANDLORDS, BROKERS….AND WHEN IT MIGHT MAKE SENSE TO STOP PAYING RENT…AND JUST RELOCATE……

WE’LL ALSO DISCUSS….OPENING A SECOND RESTAURANT… DURING A PANDEMIC……PLUS….BOUNCING BACK….AFTER A NEAR-FATAL CAR ACCIDENT….HOW THAT SPARKED A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE….. 



SO I’LL START BY ASKING…..AS WE ALWAYS DO….CHEF RODRIGUEZ…..

 “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?”......

THIS COULD BE A MEAL FROM TODAY …..OR A CUP OF COFFEE THAT YOU’RE DRINKING NOW….

 …...OR….. IT COULD BE …...THE LAST MEAL…. THAT YOU HAVE A REALLY GREAT MEMORY ABOUT…..ONE THAT TRULY RESONATED WITH YOU…..

IT COULD BE ONE FROM 10 YEARS AGO….. OR ANYTIME….

 

 

[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 





EXPANSION…….BREAKING DOWN THE MOTIVATION BEHIND IT?:



CURRENTLY YOU’RE IN THE PROCESS OF OPENING TWO NEW CONCEPTS IN THE EAST VILLAGE…..

OWNING AND RUNNING ONE RESTAURANT FILLS MY PLATE….

CAN YOU BREAK DOWN YOUR MOTIVATION TO TAKE ON THIS EXPANSION ? 



 

[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 

































LANDLORDS, BROKERS & WHEN IT MAKES SENSE TO STOP PAYING RENT & RELOCATE


I READ AN INTERVIEW WHERE YOU BROKE DOWN THE STRESS THAT WE ALL DEAL WITH….. WHEN IT COMES TO RENT & LANDLORDS….

YOU SAID QUOTE:


“I PRETTY MUCH PAID RENT THIS WHOLE PANDEMIC. “

BUT I DID START GETTING SO MANY PHONE CALLS FROM BROKERS… ABOUT MOVING TO ANOTHER LOCATION. 


THERE’S ANOTHER SPOT WHERE IT ACTUALLY MIGHT MAKE MORE SENSE TO JUST STOP PAYING RENT….LOSE THE SECURITY DEPOSIT….AND RELOCATE. 


THAT’S A VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY… IF LANDLORDS DON’T NEGOTIATE. 

I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND THEIR POSITION…..BECAUSE WHO’S GOING TO COME IN AND RENT THAT SPACE IF WE MOVE?


NAI IS A THREE-FLOOR RESTAURANT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VILLAGE. 

VERY FEW RESTAURANTS ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO TAKE THAT SPOT AND ACTUALLY PAY THAT MASSIVE RENT… IN THESE TIMES. 


SO IT’S WEIRD TO HEAR LANDLORDS SAYING, “YES, WE WANT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK WITH YOU…. BUT THE MOST WE CAN DO…. IS 10 PERCENT OFF YOUR RENT.” 

THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK ON A $26,000 RENT.


THEN THEY’LL SAY…. “LET’S TAKE RENT PAYMENTS FROM THE DEPOSIT….AND THEN YOU REPAY IT,”


OR….. “WHY DON’T YOU TAKE OUT LOANS?”

IT’S LIKE THEY’RE GUIDING ME TO GET MYSELF MORE INTO THE DITCH.


CHEF RODRIGUEZ….YOU RECENTLY RELOCATED THE ORIGINAL NAI RESTAURANT…. TO A BI-LEVEL SPACE….


WHAT PROMPTED THIS MOVE?.....DID A BROKER MAKE YOU AN AWESOME OFFER WHERE IT MADE SENSE TO STOP PAYING RENT….LOSE THE SECURITY DEPOSIT….AND RELOCATE?

 

[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 

OPENING DURING A PANDEMIC



AFTER NAI, YOU OPENED THE MEXICAN-INSPIRED AMIGO BY NAI IN 2020…..

TELL ME ABOUT THIS JOURNEY OF OPENING A SECOND RESTAURANT…. DURING A PANDEMIC….



[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]






NEAR-FATAL CAR ACCIDENT 



NOT LONG AFTER OPENING NAI…YOU WERE IN A CAR ACCIDENT… THAT ALMOST TOOK YOUR LIFE…. 

YOU SPENT MONTHS AWAY FROM THE RESTAURANT…. WHILE RECOVERING….

YOUR MOM STEPPED IN…. TO HELP RUN THE KITCHEN….

TAKE ME BACK TO THAT TIME…WHAT THOUGHTS WERE RUNNING THROUGH YOUR MIND?



[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 

 


AND ….DID THAT ACCIDENT GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE ?



[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 








 

SYNCHRONICITIES



HAVE THERE EVER BEEN ANY SIGNS OR SYNCHRONICITIES IN YOUR LIFE…. THAT LED TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU….. IN THIS INDUSTRY? ……. 


IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE MOMENT….



 


[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


FLOW STATE:



A FLOW STATE, ALSO KNOWN AS BEING IN THE ZONE…. IS THE MENTAL STATE WHEN A PERSON IS PERFORMING AN ACTIVITY….. AND IS FULLY IMMERSED…. IN A FEELING OF ENERGIZED FOCUS, CLARITY  AND ENJOYMENT…. IN THE ENTIRE PROCESS…..


IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK….IT’S EFFORTLESS ATTENTION THAT YOU’RE GIVING THE ACTIVITY…..IT’S A EUPHORIC FEELING… 


IT’S DURING THIS ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS…. THAT YOUR MIND FUNCTIONS… AT ITS PEAK….AND A SENSE OF HAPPINESS… FLOWS THROUGH YOUR BODY.


I’VE BEEN IN THIS STATE….


HERE’S THE EXAMPLE I USE FOR MY GUESTS:


I CAN GET INTO IT….. IF I’M AT MY RESTAURANT WHEN IT’S CLOSED…. AND I’M THE ONLY ONE THERE….I MIGHT BE WORKING ON NEW DRINKS FOR MY MENU….MUSIC IS PLAYING….

THERE ARE NO INTERRUPTIONS…JUST ME, INGREDIENTS….. AND THE SOUNDS…. AND  BEATS…. OF THE MUSIC...


AND THE RECIPES FLOW….IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK….



AS A CHEF, HAVE YOU EVER REACHED THIS STATE…. WHILE IN THE KITCHEN?


IF YOU HAVE….PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR SURROUNDINGS…. LEADING IT UP TO IT….


WAS MUSIC PLAYING ?…. OR PERHAPS YOU’RE IN SILENCE….OR MAYBE IT’S DURING SERVICE?



AND ALSO….WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE…. BEING IN THAT STATE?


 


[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]



TAKEAWAY:


CHEF RODRIGUEZ, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US …


I BELIEVE THAT THE JOURNEY…. IS ALWAYS GREATER THAN THE DESTINATION. 


IT’S ON THE PATH THAT WE LEARN….EVOLVE AND….. ENCOUNTER LESSONS…. THAT SHAPE US…. INTO OUR BEST SELVES.


I ALWAYS LIKE ENDING THE PODCAST…. BY ASKING…. IF THERE’S ANY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE WITH LISTENERS…... THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THEIR LIVES.


IT COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE JUST DISCUSSED…. A LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED ON YOUR JOURNEY…. OR GENERAL LIFE ADVICE THAT YOU LIVE BY ….…


 

 

[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]



AND WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU  ?



[[CHEF RODRIGUEZ DISCUSSES]]




OUTRO:


THANKS FOR LISTENING….AND IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY….... FOLLOW  “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” ….WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS….




[[MUSIC]]



EXPANSION
WHEN IT MAKES SENSE TO STOP PAYING RENT
OPENING DURING A PANDEMIC
NEAR-FATAL CAR ACCIDENT
SYNCHRONICITIES
FLOW STATE
TAKEAWAY