Q&A with Debbie Roxarzade
Debbie Roxarzade has been a leader in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, during which time she has proven herself to be a driven and innovative businesswoman with a superior talent for strategy and innate business sense. Over the years and following the creation of seven restaurant concepts in Los Angeles, Debbie has developed a strong knowledge of the hospitality and restaurant industries and established a proven track record of successful business development. Today, Debbie serves as the founder and CEO of Rachel’s Kitchen, and she is based in Las Vegas.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I’ve been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years. I started my career in the culinary circles of the star-studded City of Angels, creating a number of celebrated restaurant concepts including Debbie’s Bistro – once recognized as one of LA’s Big 10 Best New Restaurants by Los Angeles magazine. After the success and notoriety of what were ultimately seven restaurants in Los Angeles, I decided to relocate to the newest culinary capital of the world, Las Vegas. Home to more celebrity chefs than possibly anywhere else in the world, I knew this was the perfect location for my newest venture. Named after my daughter, the first Rachel’s Kitchen was opened in 2006 – a quaint fresh casual café featuring delicious and reasonably priced bistro fare. My concept was simple: serve fresh, high quality and great tasting food with a gourmet touch at affordable prices. Ten years later, that single location has blossomed to eight unique locations around the Las Vegas Valley, including a coveted spot inside McCarran International Airport.
What inspired you to start your business?
I love to cook, and always wanted my own business. I grew up in the Los Angeles area and once I was old enough I had the opportunity to open a small coffee shop. It was hard work, but I enjoyed the challenge. Within a couple years I was thirsty for the next step in my career so I opened a lunch café. I truly learned the restaurant business “on the job” and the knowledge helped me keep evolving and changing with the times. By 2005 I had opened seven eateries in the LA area. It was a wonderful experience!
Where is your business based?
Las Vegas, NV
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
I started Rachel's Kitchen after having owned and operated several restaurants in LA. I lived in LA at the time and commuted between the two while in construction. I relocated to Vegas a month before we opened for business.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
The most effective way of raising awareness for a business is through community events—engaging with the local community and letting them know that we are not just here to serve food but also to be an active member of the community. That engagement left an impression on our customers and helped us grow to what we are today.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Employees have been the biggest challenge. I've learned to look at signals early on that I may not have noticed before. Now, we work with them to grow and improve them in areas they are lacking in training and development.
How do you stay focused?
I love what I do and am very committed to my company. My drive keeps me focused.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
We strive to always give our guests a consistent experience and work hard to constantly improve.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Implementing our Preferred Guest Program, which is our loyalty program. Guests are given points for their purchases and they can redeem the points for items from the menu. They also receive birthday offers and exclusive offers. Building loyalty is crucial to a business.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My advice is to be ethical, and treat people as you would want to be treated. Too many people get caught up in bad businesses practices.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favorite book is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. It reminds me of how important it is to push to be the best.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I regularly visit Entrepreneur.com and QSRmagazine.com. I log onto these sites regularly as they keep me connected with what is going on in the restaurant business world.
Who is your business role model? Why?
I think the brand Tory Burch has created is fantastic. I appreciate it as I admire how she strives to empower women entrepreneurs through the ToryBurch Foundation.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
I plan to continue growing Rachel’s Kitchen, which we recently launched an expansion initiative to grow beyond the Las Vegas Valley.
How can our readers connect with you?