After years spent successfully exiting a multimillion dollar restaurant portfolio in Atlanta, I, Lorenzo Wyche decided to, “take my talents to South Beach”.
“I love the way I can integrate health and wellness into my daily business routines here. I’m not sure I can do this anywhere else. The transition from a daily regimen that included visiting three locations, starting with a breakfast place and ending at 3 a.m. at my popular bar in downtown Atlanta, has its positives and negatives. I miss the rapid-fire pace of running almost 24 hours of a restaurant day, and of course, the cash flow. But as a more seasoned entrepreneur, I have learned to build better teams and work through them.”
Now, I spend my time mostly on my phone and in meetings. “Less is more”, means spending less time in the restaurants, which has given me more time to spend developing a restaurant company that plans to do over 1 billion dollars in revenue by
2025. I was able to make my first million at age 26, and since then, I realized that to go from 1 million to 1 billion, it’s about tapping into growing brands and buying existing, high-value companies.
My day begins at 6:30 a.m., enough time to brush my teeth and walk over to South Beach Boxing. At the gym, I get in a nice, high intensity workout for an hour. Then, I get my ginger shot and head a few blocks over to Lummus Park, where I do a nice warm down run/jog, post on Twitter and check my emails.
After heading over to Whole Foods and grabbing a few items for breakfast, it’s back home to shower and dress, and then I’m on the phone at 9 a.m. My first call of the day is to Steve, at my private equity advisory. In addition to being one myself, I am a huge advocate of having advisors and consultants. I understand the time and education that goes into being an expert, so I try to find affordable experts wherever possible.
On my behalf, the advisory group is working on a new acquisition of a group of franchised restaurants. We decide on plan to ramp up to 50 million dollars. I love working on big projects like this. It takes two years to launch a million-dollar restaurant from lease signing to it running efficiently, and it can take the same amount of time to acquire a 50-million-dollar portfolio of restaurants. At this stage in my career, I’d rather work on big projects, because they take up just as much time, compared to smaller projects.
After my morning conference call, I head over to Lincoln Road to see a restaurant client I’m advising. It’s a family-owned business, owned by an Argentinian family that has restaurants in Lincoln and Ocean, and they depend heavily on hotel traffic. They also want to get more local clientele, so I spend an hour showing them how to double down on what’s working, “If your business is coming from hotels,” I tell them. “Let’s go get more hotel business.”
At 2 p.m., I take a quick walk over to Ocean Drive to meet with Jacob, a thick-accented New Yorker who runs a string of boutique hotels on the strip, and he has some restaurant space to lease out inside his hotels. I like the idea of turnkey restaurants, but SoBe is a tough market for newbies. To make it in Miami Beach, you must have an existing reputation with local clientele, and that noise will attract the tourists. I passed on the investment, but sent a text to my ex-girlfriend in New York City, because she manages a restaurant owned by a hipster restaurant group. I ask her if they are interested in a SoBe outpost, and she says she will check with the owners. I figure I can broker a good deal for Jacob in lieu of doing it myself.
Around 4 p.m., I get a text from Andreus, a good friend and restaurant designer. He’s designed some of the hottest restaurants in New York City, and also has a place with tennis legend Andre Agassi on the west coast. He wants to break into the Miami market, so I invite him to an event hosted by famous nightlife mogul David Grutman. We plan to meet up at 8 p.m. in the Miami Design District. Then, I head over to Panther Coffee at Sunset Harbor to meet up with a young chef who’s interested in opening a new vegan restaurant in Miami. I tell her she needs to pair up with a real estate developer in the hot new area, Little Haiti. New areas like that need young restaurant energy, and developers can finance her, because they know she will help create buzz around their development. Build the vegan café, and 24 months later, you will have luxury condos. She is smart and very attractive, so I know she will kill it. I invite her to come with me to meet up with Andreus tonight in the Design District .
At 3 p.m., I get a surprise call from a restaurant client in Atlanta, Doug, about his new opening. Doug is a client/friend who was referred to me by an accountant in Atlanta. I have been doing restaurant advisory via phone calls with Doug for a year, and he opens his place to rave reviews on Yelp.
“I find it’s easier to work with clients if I am able to build a genuine friendship. I really want their projects to be amazing, and I think they like my brutal honesty.”
I make a quick call to London, my 9-year-old daughter who lives in Atlanta, to check on her progress in school. She assures her daddy that she has everything under control.
The vegan chef and I head over to OTL Miami, a new, hot fast-casual owned by David Grutman. He is doing a talk upstairs in the event space, and I’m nodding along as Grutman explains that you must build relationships to win in the nightlife business. Afterwards, he urges Andreus, the young hot NYC designer, to go up and introduce himself. After a brief conversation with the “King of Miami”, we head out.
It’s about 10:00 p.m., and my friend, a winner from the Food Network show Chopped, is in town and wants me to come by his hotel in Coral Gables.
At 11:00 p.m., I arrive at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, and in true restauranteur fashion, we take over a quiet section on the patio and begin holding court with the waitress and anyone else who wants to laugh hysterically. After about six plates of tasting dishes, the meetup feels less like two friends hanging out and more like an episode of Top Chef, with each dish getting a thorough critique, because, “I can’t stop evaluating restaurant experiences.”
Chef Davis needs to catch a flight in the morning, so we wrap up in the lobby at around 4 a.m., both of us promising to do something in Miami together soon. “Chef Sammy is smart, he knows the psychology of how customers think, which is the most important quality of a successful restauranteur.”
We pull into South Beach at 5 a.m., knowing the day starts all over again in a few hours.
“It’s funny. I am probably one of the busiest restauranteurs in South Beach, but you can’t even order a cup of water from me. I’m truly blessed.”