S1E14 | Tommy Ngo of Katana Kitchen

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 14

EPISODE GUEST: Tommy Ngo

Inspired by his family, Tommy Ngo infuses his appreciation of nutrition and creativity to meet modern dietary needs at Katana Kitchen.

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Katana Kitchen owner, Tommy Ngo’s family has been in the restaurant industry for well over 20 years. Born in Southern California and raised in Houston, Ngo ended up on the east coast because of his restaurant work. But he never felt like he would be in the food industry.

After learning different trades and pursuing interests in the beauty and computer industries, Ngo always gravitated back to restaurants at the end of the day. And seeing his uncle’s drive and success became a major inspiration.

Eventually, he decided to take the plunge. “I saw the growth and potential of growing as a person and as a business and what I could provide – and realizing what I could achieve, I dove head in and never stopped to look back.”

Working with his mother, he was able to invest a small part in some of the family’s restaurants. Ngo convinced his brother come aboard with him after graduating and decided to branch out from the family’s restaurants with their own “nimble, fast an modern” spin-off concept, Katana Japanese Fusion.

Expansion was on the horizon, then Ngo’s mother got sick. Battling cancer, her dietary needs changed. Ngo became inspired by her nutritional needs and while his mother is no longer with him physically, she lives on through his work.

“I took that inspiration to create this concept where food and nutrition come together with creativity and modern dietary needs.” His new shop, Katana Kitchen, embodies this idea and is the future of where he wants to take the brand.

“Anything you do can be hard but if you love it and enjoy it, it becomes a creative zone for you.” It’s great to have family in the industry to have each other’s backs

Ngo’s insight on starting a business from scratch: ‘I think the biggest thing for me is just being dedicated to what you like. Learn as much as you can. Get your hands dirty, get involved. Do it because you love it. Don’t chase the money. Chase your dream and the money will come.”

“Anything you do can be hard but if you love it and enjoy it, it becomes a creative zone for you.”

– Tommy Ngo, Katana Kitchen

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By |2022-04-04T20:47:50-05:00September 14th, 2020|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 1|0 Comments

S1E11 | Dimitri Maheras of Caswell Station

SEASON 1: EPISODE NUMBER: 11

EPISODE GUEST: Dimitri Maheras

Caswell Station’s Dimitri Maheras on the importance of being a hands-on restaurant owner to help the shop succeed.

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Caswell Station and Graham Street Pub owner, Dimitri Maheras, grew up in the restaurant industry. His father and uncles owned a Mexican restaurant called Hermanos, then bought Leo’s Deli in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C.

Maheras went to school for an entirely different profession: criminal justice. “But I always knew I was going to end up in the restaurant business.”

Not one to be scared of getting his hands dirty, Maheras has worked many positions in the restaurant industry. After living in Florida for school, Maheras returned to Charlotte in 2011 and worked for his uncles at Greek Isles restaurant, formerly in the South End neighborhood, and some other bars and restaurants.

Eventually, it was time to make the leap. Maheras and partners bought a restaurant in Concord as a group, then another in Indian Trail. It was a strong start for Maheras but the group eventually decided to sell both restaurants.

‘Our whole mentality is to be hands-on owners and make sure our presence is felt,” says Maheras. And it was hard as owners to get to both distant locations. So they looked for more centralized opportunities.

Caswell Station, formerly Kennedy’s Irish Pub in the Elizabeth neighborhood, was in search of a new owner. They revamped the restaurant and kept the focus on the food and the amazing location and large patio.

Graham Street Pub presented a whole other set of challenges. The bar/restaurant had to be rebuilt from the ground up in its high traffic spot between the Charlotte’s Knights baseball stadium and the Bank of America NFL stadium.

The group contributes the success of their restaurants in large part to being present at the shops. “If you know this business and you’re a hands-on owner it makes a world of difference.”

Maheras’ advice to young entrepreneurs: “Always hold yourself accountable, set goals for yourself, and try your best to achieve them. Hard work always pays off.”

“If you know this business and you’re a hands-on owner it makes a world of difference.”

– Dimitri Maheras, Caswell Station

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By |2022-04-04T23:20:42-05:00July 28th, 2020|Paper Trails, PodCasts, Season 1|0 Comments

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