RESTAURANT STARTUP UPDATE: Concept Change in 24 Hours Nets Investment From Joe Bastianich For Authentic Spanish Cuisine

It’s back to basics for RESTAURANT STARTUP tonight on CNBC, as Tim Love and Joe Bastianich reunite for the next food fight over a potential investment.

It’s Bocadillo vs. Old New York with the entrepreneurs looking to bust out of the ranks of employee to own their own places.  RECAP of episode posted below.

Bocadillo hails from Portland, Oregon and its specialty is old-school Spanish food, while Old New York wants to set up shop in the increasingly popular Manhattan neighborhood of West Harlem.

As you can see from the photo above, Bastianich hasn’t lost a step in reminding the investment-seekers of the basics. It’s all well and good to open a place, but without net profit, “It’s a hobby”. Preach it, Joe.

The Old New York guys describe their idea for a shared-plate eatery and cocktail lounge for the folks moving into the booming area.

Oh, but wait, there’s more. When the kitchen closes down, out come the dancing shoes. Is that an idea Bastianich and Tim Love can get behind?

Their ask: $200,000 for 10% of the new place.

Next up to pitch the investors on RESTAURANT STARTUP was the team from Bocadillo, which is the name of a classic Spanish cuisine sandwich.

The duo who expect to open what they called a chef-driven fast/casual restaurant have been friends for at least a decade, just like the Old New York guys, and tired of killing themselves to make others rich.

Bocadillo exists as a pop-up at the moment, but with an investment, the team would build a brick-and-mortar place they will be proud of.

Their ask: $250,000 for 25% of the business.



As much as Joe Bastianich contorted the info in his mind, he and Tim couldn’t find a way to make the Old New York concept a winner. He even snapped at them that dancing required a separate license which they didn’t have.

So….it was on to Bocadillo, that became Urdaneta, the name of Javier, the chef’s grandfather who taught him to cook and inspired him. That was at the insistence of Joe and Tim who turned the pop-up chance on its head.

They wanted an authentic Spanish food experience, charmed by Javier’s roots and cooking ability. The guys were told to dump the “sandwich shop” concept, as Joe called it and create a tapas bar with wine pairings.

Joe ridiculed the fast-casual concept of standing in line to order, taking a number and then waiting for “some dumpy waitress” to bring the food. With that he continued a string of unfiltered remarks and aggressive behavior that began the season with things flying through the air, breaking on the walls.

It is difficult enough for teams to execute their plan, but to do something completely different in a day is almost impossible. It wasn’t for Javier and Ryan.

They hit a home run on the design of the pop-up and with the menu items that were pre-tasted by Antonia LoFaso.  Joe also complimented them for the wine selections, which he saw as must-haves for an authentic Spanish food establishment. They got help from local LA Spanish grocers and wine merchants, who ended up at the pop-up for the test dinner.

Javier would man the kitchen and Ryan had to run the front of the house on top of being the guy at the bar with the appetizers and wine.

His cheerleader attitude was annoying, particularly when he failed miserably at every job he had. Urdaneta opened without any wine or glasses at the bar area. His positive answer to Bastianich’s question as to whether he knew what he was doing, was off the mark.

He was overwhelmed with the number plates he had to make and wine glasses he had to fill and oops, he forgot to ring up customers’ tickets. To be fair, the men hadn’t run a restaurant of this type, having created a pop-up bocadillo place.

But, Joe and Tim were pleased with what came out of the kitchen. Javier is the real deal and his squid dish was Joe’s pick as a signature plate. The concept exceeded estimates of what they’d sell that night and they got high marks on the food that came out of the kitchen, as well as the wine. More than 90% of diners thought prices were reasonable, which made Joe salivate.

At $10 a glass it’s $6.50 to the bottom line and if people lingered over their dishes to order a second glass, Bastianich saw gold in them thar’ hills, but how do they handle the Ryan problem?

He and Javier have been working together for years and are buddies. You might harken back to earlier this season when Joe almost balked at funding Room 55 because one partner was a disaster, in Joe’s opinion.

Investment offers:

Joe went big, loving the way Javier cooks and seeing big upside in doing it right in the Portland, Oregon area. But…he wanted him to get seasoning and apprentice with great chefs in Spain, as well as work in wineries, then return to create Urdaneta. He called it the opportunity of a lifetime.

That meant that Ryan was out of the picture, at least for a while.

Bastianich is such a honcho, he knows who to tap to help Javier. Throughout the night he’d spoken some Spanish and dragged out all his knowledge about Spanish cuisine.

He offered Javier three months of apprenticeship in Spain, then $150,000 to set up Urdaneta. For that he would take 75% of the equity. Ryan was not included. Javier was given the right to buy back shares up to a maximum of 49% after Joe was paid off. Javier gulped.

It meant leaving Ryan behind and reconnecting, only if he wanted to, when the restaurant was up. It also meant he wouldn’t be a majority owner of his own place, which had been the goal to begin with.

Joe was unmoved and said,

“I’m taking so much risk, and making a big investment here, that I have to own the majority share of the restaurant.  I don’t want to run it, it will all be on you. I’m not always the easiest guy in the world to get along with, (as Tim chuckled) but I do have a good vision and clarity and I’ve been very good at doing this kind of thing. You’re the kind of guy I can do it with.”

Tim countered with:

“I’ll give you $150,000 and make it real simple. You pay me back twice and we go to a 50/50 split of the equity. That’s exactly where I’m at.”

When Javier ruminated, Joe was a bit surprised, although you have to wonder why. Javier had a dream and a plan when he came to LA, and in 48 hours it was gone, changed for good and he was faced with leaving the country and dropping his buddy out of the new plan.

Ultimately, although you could see Javier was scared of Joe, and by the way, who isn’t this season, he went with the lifetime opportunity.

Look, Joe Bastianich knows how to come up with an idea for a restaurant, then execute it so that it is successful. It’s always a bottom-line decision for him and his brusque manner belies the Italian warmth within.

Yes it’s there and when Javier hesitated and explained that “Look, you’re a slick guy and I don’t really know you,” Joe’s feelings were ruffled. Why doesn’t he realize how overwhelming he is with his knowledge, way of speaking and experience? He was able to dial up great chefs in Europe and set up Javier to succeed. Who does that? Sheesh.

You can argue with his methods, but you have to take him along with the deal. Ultimately, Javier took Joe at his word, that he’d become the expert on the food and wine he’d serve and create in Portland at a new place.

The update as the credits rolled informed us that Javier had put in his apprentice time and was back in Portland ready to work with Joe to build his place.

CNBC airs RESTAURANT STARTUP Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT    Image/video credit: CNBC, used with permission

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