Few industries allow so many to funnel their personal passions into entrepreneurial realities. This week we feature Erica Gendler, the self-titled “Chef Mom,” of License 2 Grill in Thornwood, New York. Erica took over the Grill in February 2014 but her passion for foodservice started long before.
“I fell into it. After graduating from high school, I had the summer free before starting college. A local billiards hall had an opening and hired me on the spot. I was a short order cook and waitress and I was hooked. I looked for another food service job shortly after starting college (out of town) and found one at a chain grill & bar. After 18 years of serving, I knew it was my time.”
What does Erica love about her business?
“My business is a family business with heart and soul. There is no plan B. We have 100% of us invested here, like a second child. I love my grill because it is a dream come true to be a business owner in the industry that has captured me through my career. The hospitality industry is the only place for me. This is what I was born to do, feed people and make them happy. I am also proud that I have created an amazing menu that people become “regulars” for. That really makes it all worth it.”
How much of a family business is License 2 Grill? As Erica says, “It’s funny because my husband had zero food related experience before coming to work at our grill. I never expected him to stay, it was supposed to be a short time to get up and running but he never went back to his previous job. He is hooked and thank goodness because I couldn’t do it by myself.”
As with any new business, there are challenges to overcome. The biggest challenge for Erica has been “regaining a positive reputation in the community. We took over the business from a previous owner who was not invested in the neighborhood.”
Another key staple of a strong foodservice establishment is Cambro products and Erica uses Cambro containers to “store our hand cut fries and our buffalo wings. We also use them for soups, pulled pork, fresh celery and so much more. They are so versatile, from fridge to microwave at times (although we rarely use the microwave because our food is fresh).”
Links for License 2 Grill: