We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Pernice and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always been drawn to restaurants for the energy of a bustling dining room on a Saturday night, with a million different pieces clicking together to create an experience for people to enjoy. I call it the “cockpit mentality” when you’ve orchestrated the machinery of the restaurant to work together seamlessly. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does there’s no better feeling.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
WHAT I’M MOST PROUD OF: I’m most proud of our restaurants’ community involvement. With outreach both big and small, we’ve always prioritized being community participants, our way of giving back for all the support we receive. A great example was the “Table & Aid” food kitchen we started in the earliest, dark days of the shutdown. We distributed 9,723 FREE meals to the food insecure over 12 weeks, receiving so many donations of product and funds from our neighbors and vendors alike. Another example is raising funds to donate 38 laptops to the Drake House and Children’s Development Academy here in Roswell. These initiatives are important to us, and we’re glad to be in a position to help. WHAT SETS US APART: Our restaurants do a tremendous job of creating great experiences for every individual in each seat at every table, nightly. We compile in-depth notes on guest preferences to surprise them with their favorite drink. We remember birthdays. We note when a guest posts something happy on Facebook about buying a new house, and a few day’s later we may gift them with a housewarming present. We’re in the business of delighting our guests, and we keep a laser focus on our goal: Making people happy. THE JOURNEY: I began working in restaurants when I was 14 at a place in Alpharetta called The Roasted Garlic, which is actually just a couple blocks from our newest restaurant, Coalition Food and Beverage. From there I attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, graduating with distinction. I worked in NYC at a restaurant consulting firm called Avero for a few years before gaining invaluable restaurant experience opening Maialino for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. I benefitted very early on from knowing that I wanted to open my own restaurants, which was a rare gift as a young man. I have journal entries from when I was ten years old talking about it. To have found that passion for hospitality and career focus early on was really lucky. RO HOSPITALITY: I named our restaurant company RO Hospitality, which stands for Reckless Optimism. I think it’s important that people launch themselves with a spirit of confident positivity towards their goals, which is what RO means to me. Life will hand you endless reasons to “play the victim” or give up. If your worldview isn’t one that keeps you fighting and moving forward, you’re not going to achieve what you want to achieve.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Roswell has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years! I’d be sure to spend some time on the Chattahoochee river both walking the new trail system and kayaking on the water. We’d visit two downtown breweries – Gate City and Variant – to get in some outdoor corn hole. And we’d be sure to tick off a bunch of food destinations along Canton Street, starting with brunch biscuits at Gracious Plenty and ending with fried chicken at Table & Main. I’m probably most excited about the projects happening over the next couple years. From the development at the old Wells Fargo space on Mimosa to the Southern Post project, there’s a lot of cool stuff poised to transform downtown Roswell into an even more attractive destination.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My brother, Daniel (also an owner of our restaurants), and I owe so much of our success to our parents, Pete and Deborah. From our earliest years, my parents taught us that we could achieve whatever we wanted, AND we could have fun doing it. Even now my parents are active in our businesses. My dad is our self-titled Vice President of Facilities, fixing anything in the restaurants (sometimes whether or not it’s broken!). And my mom spends countless hours on seasonal décor, helping maintain the aesthetics of the spaces. All this AND they’re actually our top paying customers. Seriously, we’ve run the reports. No one spends more money in our restaurants than they do. Since they’re our parents and all, we’d comp them more stuff, but we’d probably go broke. Not a single one of us would’ve guessed we’d all be working together like this one day, but restaurants have a habit of encircling your entire life!
Food shots by Iain Bagwell. Exterior Building shots by Andrew Thomas Lee