S1E30 | Pinky’s Westside Grill Owner Greg Auten

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 30

EPISODE GUEST: Greg Auten

Pinky’s Westside Grill was serving up a mean meal long before Guy Fieri and the Food Network visited.  We’re chatting with owner, Greg Auten, whose long history in the restaurant scene has taken him from a hot dog cart to working with another Charlotte, NC iconic diner, the Penguin.

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It’s the restaurant with a VW Bug sitting atop the roof that you’ve seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. But we already knew Pinky’s Westside Grill was serving up a mean meal long before Guy Fieri and the Food Network visited.

Owner, Greg Auten, has had along history in the Charlotte, N.C. restaurant scene. A Charlotte native, Auten has watched the city and food scene grow exponentially. He started his culinary career working a hot dog cart, bartending at Red Lobster and working as a banquet chef before taking a position at the iconic Penguin restaurant.

Despite the popularity and success of Pinky’s, Auten’s career has had many setbacks. Overcoming them has taught him the importance of consistency, reliability, and investing. His advice? “Whoever’s listening to this learn from these stories… there’s a little thread of what it takes to succeed.”

Greg Auten’s Business Tips:

  • Take what you do serious
  • Be in control of finances
  • Stay on top of everything
  • Knowing the cost of everything

After a wide and varied journey through all sides of the restaurant industry, bbq fan Lewis Donald launched his shop, Sweet Lew’s, in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlotte, NC because he felt Charlotte needed a true barbecue shop and “I felt like that was my best avenue to be me, have fun and I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life.”

“It takes time and you have to really work at it like any business”

– Jason Ackerman of @scallionpancake on growing an Instagram following

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By |2022-03-23T13:38:51-05:00February 16th, 2021|Paper Trails, Season 1|0 Comments

S1E29 | Charlotte Food Influencers: Allie Papajohn, Jason Ackerman & Jessica Hodnett – Paper Trails

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 29

EPISODE GUEST: Jason Ackerman, Jessica Hodnett & Allie Papajohn

They’re the minds behind Charlotte, N.C.’s most popular Instagram food feeds.  Meet @eatdrinkclt’s Allie Papajohn, one-half of @scallionpancake’s Jason Ackerman, and @thesweetseoul’s Jessica Hodnett. 

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They’re the minds behind the mouth-watering feeds of three of Charlotte, N.C.’s most popular foodie Instagram accounts.  Meet @eatdrinkclt’s Allie Papajohn, one-half of @scallionpancake’s Jason Ackerman, and @thesweetseoul’s Jessica Hodnett.  

We test the foodie trio’s local restaurant knowledge and find out what they would like to see come to Charlotte.  

In the trying times of COVID, they share how they’ve been working to help use their foodie power for good in support of the restaurant industry.  

Their tips for being successful on social media:

  • Be engaging
  • Consistent/authentic
  • Be involved in the community
  • Motivation
  • Know your worth
  • Enjoy what you do

After a wide and varied journey through all sides of the restaurant industry, bbq fan Lewis Donald launched his shop, Sweet Lew’s, in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlotte, NC because he felt Charlotte needed a true barbecue shop and “I felt like that was my best avenue to be me, have fun and I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life.”

“It takes time and you have to really work at it like any business”

– Jason Ackerman of @scallionpancake on growing an Instagram following

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By |2022-03-23T13:38:51-05:00February 9th, 2021|Paper Trails, Season 1|0 Comments

S1E28 | Primeline Capital President Brad Lawson & Co-Owner Fernando Escaffi

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 28

EPISODE GUEST: Brad Lawson & Fernando Escaffi

We’ve ventured outside the restaurant industry to sit down with Brad Lawson & Fernando Escaffi, owners of Primeline Capital. Thinking about starting a new business? Well, these guys just started their own mortgage company 2 years ago, and now have over 40 employees. Tune in to learn some tips and tricks on how to have a successful startup.

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We’re stepping outside the restaurant industry into the wild world of mortgages with Brad Lawson, the president of Primeline Capital, and co-owner Fernando Escaffi.  

Lawson and Escaffi are entrepreneurs who created their mortgage company from scratch.  Primeline Capital are mortgage brokers which help with refinancing mortgages, buying new homes, and other financings.

The two things Lawson and Escaffi say entrepreneurs need in order to start their business:

  1. People Skills
  2. Confidence

Through hardship, remain hyper-focused on your goal in order to succeed.  Career-long preparation plays a key role in launching a business.  Seizing opportunities and continuing to make connections will play an important role throughout a career.  

Lawson and Escaffi share the wisdom they’ve gained on what it takes to find success launching a new business. 




“You don’t prepare a month before leaving your company.  You prepare throughout your entire career.”

– Fernando Escaffi, Primeline Capital

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By |2022-03-23T13:38:52-05:00February 2nd, 2021|Paper Trails, Season 1|0 Comments

S1E27 | Chef Sam Diminich

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 27

EPISODE GUEST: Chef Sam Diminich

Chef Sam Diminich has beaten Bobby Flay, and now he’s found a way to thrive AND help others amidst the massive strain COVID has placed on the restaurant industry. His story of resilience in creating Your Farms Your Table, his local meal delivery service that is championing our regional farmers. 

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His lobster risotto beat Bobby Flay, and his new gourmet delivery meal business, Your Farms, Your Table, has played strong defense to the battle COVID-19 has wrought on the restaurant industry.

 

Chef Sam Diminich has accomplished what many chefs dream but the road hasn’t always been easy. 

 

Growing up in the restaurant industry, Diminich learned to love the work ethic and hustle it took to run a business.  

 

He enrolled in the culinary program at his community college and began working at a seafood restaurant.  He soon realized that the restaurant industry was where he was meant to be.  

 

Around 1995, he entered into a sous chef competition where the first-place winner earned a free semester at the Culinary Institute of America.  

 

Sam won.  It was the start of a great career for Diminich, but the journey was not without hardships. Diminch is open about the ups and downs he’s faced, battling alcohol and addiction.

 

Throughout it all, he continued to climb the ladder in the restaurant industry, eventually becoming Executive Chef of the restaurant Upstream in the posh South Park neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C.

 

But when the pandemic hit in 2020, Upstream made the tough decision to shut down.  Out of work, Diminich got innovative to create income for himself and to help local farmers who had crops with no restaurants to supply.  

 

Your Farms, Your Table became the solution.  Diminich’s new business supports local farmers by using seasonal produce for an ever-changing menu of gourmet meals to-go.  He cooks and delivers the food to homes all over town and hasn’t repeated a menu.




“And by that Tuesday we had closed down. It was f*n over man. That was a tough day.”

– Chef Sam Diminich

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By |2022-03-23T13:38:52-05:00January 26th, 2021|Paper Trails, Season 1|0 Comments

S1E26 | Triad Foodie Nikki Miller-Ka aka “Nik Snacks”

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 26

EPISODE GUEST: Nikki Miller-Ka aka ‘NikSnacks’

“If you’re not on Instagram, I don’t trust you.”  Nikki Miller-Ka , aka ‘Nik Snacks,’ came to speak the truth! We travel to the Triad to dive into the Winston-Salem, NC area food scene with the leading lady of food blogging in their region.  Catch more of her mouth-watering write ups here.

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Nikki Miller-Ka aka NikSnacks is the leading lady of food blogging in the Winston-Salem region! Her goal?  To get everyone to think outside of the box, branch out, and try new, creative things.

Growing up Miller-Ka had wanted to be a journalist but went to school for teaching.  She didn’t truly enjoy the work and decided to make a change.  She enrolled in Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, which she said unlocked a whole new creative side of her brain. 

Still passionate about journalism, she began working at the Greenfield News Record as an editorial assistant.  But one thing was missing — food.  She made the leap to quit her job and start her blog.

In 2014 Miller-Ka turned her blog into her full-time job and it has blossomed into a career. Her blog focuses on the Triad and she wouldn’t have it anywhere else! She has a deep love for Winston-Salem and the restaurants and lifestyle that comprise it.

She became a food editor at TriadcityBeat and now has a weekly column she provides all the food content for.  Miller-Ka’s goal is to share the stories of the people, places, and things that make the Triad area special.

“NikSnacks” has become a multimedia food business wherein Miller-Ka develops recipes, writes articles, and promotes brands.  And she’s always happy to give tips to anyone interested in knowing the method behind her magic.  

Her advice?  Just start.  Start whatever inkling of any idea you have because you never know what will happen.  And if you never ask, the answer will always be “No.”  Learn through trial and error and scheduling posts and articles to help balance your life.

She also suggests starting on Instagram because as she quips, “If you’re not on Instagram, I don’t trust you.” 

Social media is just that — social.  Reach out to those in the community and in engage with everyone.

“If you’re not on Instagram, I don’t trust you.”

– Nikki Miller-Ka

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By |2022-03-23T13:38:53-05:00January 19th, 2021|Paper Trails, Season 1|0 Comments

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