Opening own restaurant latest step in food-service career

Not only did John Briandi follow in his family’s footsteps for a career choice, he recently took it to another level.

After about 30 years of working for other people in the restaurant industry, Briandi opened his own place in north Bibb County last week.

Briandi’s opened Monday at 3975 Arkwright Road, about a quarter mile off Interstate 75. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch.

“I think it’s an area where there are not as many breakfast places in town,” Briandi said.

While he’s a new entrepreneur, he’s familiar with the industry.

Briandi grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and his parents were in the restaurant business. After high school, he worked for his family for awhile. He started on the ground floor by working in the kitchen, before working at Wendy’s and Burger King.

Moving out of the fast food business, Briandi worked for TGI Friday’s before getting his first general manager position in Valdosta at Cracker Barrel. After about a year, he transferred to the Cracker Barrel restaurant on Eisenhower Parkway where he worked as a manager about 10 years. He left about three months ago to open Briandi’s.

“I always wanted to (own a restaurant),” he said. “I thought now is a good time.”

Although the current economy may make it tougher to get started, he’s optimistic about the opportunity.

“The economy is bad, obviously, but people go to work every day and people eat out every day,” he said. “They may not eat out as often ... but our food and service will speak for itself. ... That’s what will generate the business.”

His friend and Macon restaurateur Christian Losito, who owns The Back Burner, helped give him some pointers on owning a restaurant, Briandi said.

Losito said he’s confident Briandi will succeed. “I think it’s a great location, and I think he’s going to do very well,” Losito said. “I’m sure he knows what he’s doing, and I think it’s going to be a great thing. ... It might not be a good time to open a restaurant, but with excellent service and hard work, I’m sure he’s going to do very well.”

Briandi said he’s hired a staff of four people, including a chef who has had a lot of restaurant experience. Since the space was formerly occupied by another restaurant, Joe’s Ravoli, he didn’t have to do any renovation and only had to clean up the kitchen before opening.

Briandi said his favorite part about working in the industry is meeting people and developing friendships with customers.

“It’s personal for me,” he said.

The restaurant will offer its entire breakfast and lunch menu anytime it’s open, which includes some items perhaps not seen in other area restaurants, Briandi said.

“We use hydroponic lettuce from Dublin,” he said. “We marinate our steaks with rosemary and olive oil. We make all our dressings from scratch, our soups from scratch. We try to use the best products out there without passing the cost along to the customers.”

The restaurant is the first in Macon to offer coffee sold by Coca-Cola, which has been mostly sold outside the U.S., he said. It also sells tea made by Coke, called Fuze.

At a later time, he may open for dinner, he said.

“We are now booking parties for holidays in the evenings,” he said.

One of the most enjoyable parts of opening the business, Briandi said, has been the relationships he’s developed with local businesses. Not only did he get helpful advice from Losito, but Ricky Heath, with Ricky Heath Plumbing Co., told him to get his business going and take care of his plumbing bill later, and other companies were equally accommodating, he said.

“It’s important for people to know that local people are willing to help others,” Briandi said. “It costs a lot to open a new business.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.