Matthew Rosenberg is the Founder and CEO of M-Rad Architecture and President of Fabel, a Miami-based restaurant. Matthew has been acknowledged by publications such as Forbes, where he was featured on their “Small Giants” list and INC. Magazine, which highlighted him as one of the top designers to watch. Over his career, Matthew has made significant contributions to various projects throughout North America and his international footprint extends to countries like Italy, Scotland, China, Taipei, and Mexico. His extensive experience in real estate, combined with a vast network in the hospitality sector, positions him uniquely within the industry.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Matthew Rosenberg reveals his go-to answer for when he’s asked, “What do you do?”
- How M-Rad Architecture finds customers
- Matthew shares how he comes up with his architectural ideas
- Where is M-Rad’s fully-invigorated design house located?
- Matthew discusses the origin of his restaurant, Fabel
- The keys to balancing great restaurant ambience with incredible cuisine
- How Matthew’s entrepreneurial journey has taken shape
In this episode…
A memorable restaurant experience is more than simply enjoying the food. While the taste is the most important, it’s essential that all five senses are stimulated positively. Matthew Rosenberg, who is both a restaurateur and an architect, is dialed into all the nuances that trigger the senses — from the knife, to the plateware, to the fragrance that permeates the space. The challenge, Matthew says, is to take every component of design, architecture, and operation and put it under one umbrella.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Bela Musits welcomes Matthew Rosenberg, Founder and CEO of M-Rad Architecture and President of Fabel, a Miami-based restaurant that aims to tap into all five senses. Matthew talks about his approach to marketing and how his architectural ideas come about. He discusses the importance of quality food and ambience when creating a restaurant and the challenges of starting his own architectural firm from scratch.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Bela Musits 0:20
Hello listeners, Bela Musits here. I’m the host, where this Spot On Podcast episode, where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our Spot On series. Spot On has the best in class payment platform for retail. And they have a flagship product called spot on restaurant, where they combine marketing, software and payments all in one. They have served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway, to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com. This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses cultivate and reach their dream relationships and connect with more clients. Get more referrals and strategic partnerships to get your business return on investment through done-for-you podcast. If you have a b2b business, and want to build great relationships with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it, than through podcast and content marketing. To learn more, go to rise25.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s guest on the show is Matthew Rosenberg. He is the CEO and founder of M-Rad, which is an architecture development and branding studio. They were recently named to the Forbes “Small Giants” list. And in addition, Inc. Magazine has named him one of the top 10 designers every business should have on their radar. Welcome to the podcast, Matthew.
Matthew Rosenberg 2:02
Thanks for having me.
Bela Musits 2:03
Sure. Hey, so let me ask you a question. If you’re at a non work related social event, if there is such a thing, right, a non work related social event, and after you get introduced to somebody, and they say to you, very nice to meet you, Matthew, what do you do? How do you answer that question?
Matthew Rosenberg 2:22
It’s a great question. I think after many years, I still don’t have the answer to that. But I do tell them I started off with. I’m an architect and designer. And now very much an entrepreneur. I really love starting businesses.
Bela Musits 2:38
Yeah, that’s a great answer. That’s a great answer. So tell us a little bit about M-Rad and what it does, sir,
Matthew Rosenberg 2:45
started off as purely architecture and design about 12 years ago, and really started blending a lot of other aspects of real estate architecture design, and brought everything under this all these verticals under one umbrella. So we started getting into interior design as well. We do ground up buildings design, anywhere from 275 square foot prefab mobile homes, up to a million square foot biotech campus in San Francisco. Now we also do furniture design, customized products. And we also design fragrances for our spaces and brand them market them. So it really becomes a fully integrated design house. Now, we started operating some of our buildings and developments as well.
Bela Musits 3:38
Oh, wow, that’s, that’s a really broad spectrum of business endeavors all under one roof. Up, where is M-Rad located?
Matthew Rosenberg 3:47
So our home base is in Los Angeles in Culver City, we do have satellite studio in Mexico City now as well. And then we do have some employees around the world that have started in LA and now have after the pandemic really spread out, which has been really beneficial for us because they’re extending the brand and, and the idea of M-Rad. And so we’re starting to get some more projects internationally again, as well.
Bela Musits 4:12
Wow, that’s great. So tell me a little bit about how you find customers.
Matthew Rosenberg 4:18
It’s all referral. So all of our business has, we’ve never really marketed too much. It’s always been through my network and that growing network. I love that way because it’s a very trusting way to build partnerships, where architects, you know, if you take on a random client, and then you have to work on a project for four years with someone that you don’t know or your friends don’t know, that’s a very risky business for me. So for over 10 years, it’s always been through referrals. Yeah,
Bela Musits 4:52
excellent. You know, architecture always struck me as one of those areas where not only does what your design Winning have to be functional. But it also needs to be beautiful. Right? I mean, you know, the design of a hammer hasn’t changed in 100 years that gets functional and people don’t think about beauty or anything like that, or style. So how do you as a, as an architect, and owner of this business, how do you sort of balanced those? It’s got to be functional? And at the same time, it has to look beautiful to the, to your customer in particular?
Matthew Rosenberg 5:24
Yeah, it’s a great question. Actually, I think there’s, there’s a tremendous amount of value in, in the aesthetics of things of how they feel, how they look, how they smell, even. So our thesis is based around the five senses. And I think there’s a tremendous amount of value that used to go missing, and is now being incorporated into architecture and design a lot more. So if you look at a hammer, there’s, you know, to maybe now, if you’re to redesign a hammer, you think about the texture of the handle, you think about how the handle connects to the rest of the function of the thing. And those things will change the way that you use that product, whether you know, inherently, it will change the way you feel it, touch it, use it, think about it, take care of it. And so when we design anything, whether it be a product or a building, there are elements, and it’s a fine balance between designing purely aesthetically and for this beautiful piece of art, and realizing like there are elements of that artwork, and that design and aesthetic that actually influence the way that we feel emotionally. And so we do put a lot of importance on that. Yeah,
Bela Musits 6:35
yeah. I mean, there’s almost sort of like an invisible element to this, right? There’s, there’s certain things that pop out at you and hit you right away. But you were talking about sense before, right? And smell and how that can sort of impact your mood and stuff. So a lot of these things are, you know, I characterize them as almost invisible. So they’re not jumping out at you. How do you come up with some of those ideas?
Matthew Rosenberg 7:01
I mean, my research, really, in terms of fragrance, and the five senses started about five or six years ago, my sister took me to this random class and Chinatown down downtown LA. And this woman taught us how to mix essential oils and fragrances and I became really infatuated with it and started mixing one and it reminded me of my childhood, and then realize there’s this deep connection between fragrance and memory. So started doing some research. And it really is, there’s, there’s a lot of background to this, where your memory sense is tied much tighter to fragrance. And so people connect place, memory, history, travel all these things, to fragments. And so if we can start laying in three or four, emotions and senses at the same time in our spaces in our design, we’re actually able to transport people to these places that they remember. And that gives them a much richer connection to these new places that they might have not had. So really, you know, when it comes to Fabel, the restaurant side, that’s that’s the thesis of the five senses of tapping at least four senses at the same time. And you may not be able to say this is how I feel. But when people come into the space, and they talk about it, you realize that that thesis is coming to life. Yeah.
Bela Musits 8:23
Well, it’s amazing that you said that because the the strongest part of my memory is, is the sense of smell and how it connects to where I was, or the last time I smelled that scent. Right? I can often see things, I can see a person or I see a building and I can’t place it. But if I have the scent, boy, it’s amazing how my memory can sort of place that in context. Where with other senses, at least for me, it’s not a strong connection. Absolutely. Yeah. So you mentioned Fabel. So tell us a little bit about Fabel.
Matthew Rosenberg 8:57
Yes, so Fabel is a restaurant that my team and I designed. And now I own and operate as well. We opened four months ago in Miami. And it’s been a it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least it is a it is very different industry, the hospitality industry than architecture. The speed is exponential to anything that happens in architecture and design where, you know, the building takes five years from the time you conceptualize, to build it. Whereas the restaurant is continually evolving every single night and every single day with hundreds of guests come in and every day. And so there’s all these nuances that are adjusting that that business. But it’s been it’s been really exciting to see this idea of the five senses being able to design every single aspect down to the knife to the plate where and fragrance that gets injected into the space. So it’s really been our first test of how do we take every single component of design our Architecture and operation and put it under one umbrella. And so far it’s going very well.
Bela Musits 10:06
Yeah. So that’s really neat. I mean, because you think about going to a restaurant, and you think about, yeah, how the food tastes. But that that’s just one element of that experience. And restaurants always struck me as one of the few places where this call, I’ll use the word ambiance, I don’t know if it’s the right word or not, but sort of the look and feel and the smell is really, really important. And it’s one where a lot of people go to everyone goes to restaurants, whereas you know, that, that also may be important in other types of experiences going to an art museum, or some other type of museum. But not everyone does that. But restaurants everyone goes to so it seems like it’s a really important element of having a successful restaurant and getting people to feel good during that experience. Yeah, it’s
Matthew Rosenberg 10:55
it’s a, there’s an interesting balance between creating this incredible ambience, which there’s a lot of restaurants and establishments that do very well. But typically what happens is they’ll focus on that, and then the food is, comes after secondary. Oh, yeah. And our goal is how do we create this incredible cuisine, that it brings in experience of travel and other places around the world, and allows it to sort of inject through fable, but make sure the service, the uniforms, the fashion, everything gets interwoven in the entire experience, where not one thing gets dropped off at any point. So there’s this beautiful balance between, it’s almost like an orchestra or a night, where we get to design the costumes, we have the performers come and interact with the guests, but at no time, are they getting pulled away from if the appetizers land on the table? They’re described exactly what it took to create that Comis or that four day aged chicken. And those things are, when you combine all of those things together, and the food tastes incredible in that very highly designed space. There’s something that can’t be taken away. And I think we’re starting to prove that the importance of those things combining together is really what people are looking for now.
Bela Musits 12:18
Yeah, super. So let’s talk a little bit about sort of your entrepreneurial background and your entrepreneurial adventure. So before you started M rad Did you work in in another industry or for another corporation?
Matthew Rosenberg 12:32
Yes. So I finished my master’s in architecture at CyArk in downtown LA in 2009, which was basically the job of the economy. And everyone had just been laid off, especially in architecture. And so there were no jobs in in the States or, or Canada, where I’m originally from. But I was getting offers in China, where all of the building was happening at the time. So decided to head to Beijing, I worked for a company there for about six months, designing some unbelievable projects that somehow also got built very quickly, which would only ever happen in China, I think. And then I tried to start a prefab company over there and learned a lot of lessons very quickly. But I got hooked on this idea of of entrepreneurship and starting a company. I never worked very well for other people. I always, I like working very hard. But I never quite understood the idea of Alright, why am I working so hard when I don’t fully believe in what they’re doing, and it doesn’t seem efficient. And so came back to Los Angeles and decided I could look for a job or I could look for clients and looking for clients for me was much easier than looking for a job.
Bela Musits 13:53
Very nice. So talk a little bit about, you know, the first six months to nine months. I mean, you’re looking for clients, you’re trying to convince them to go with a brand new startup person, right? How was that experience? Yeah, it’s
Matthew Rosenberg 14:08
funny, I remember it quite well, actually. We’re in our 500 square foot apartment here in Los Angeles. And I had all my screens, and it was just me. And so I did figure out how to create a company essentially. And creating an architecture company from scratch is very difficult. Typically, what happens is someone will work for a company for 10 years, they’ll ships and they’ll take a couple of clients with them. And they have that going. I started it from scratch. I didn’t have clients. I didn’t have a track record. I really hadn’t done much. So I had just started building out a portfolio of work. But a portfolio of renderings isn’t very enticing for a developer wanting to build a big project. But I found a couple of people that trusted me to learn the process to understand how the city and permitting works. And I worked for you Word for them and started then trying to get some competitions. And then I started really, this is what I guess led me to the development side, I would seek out properties and do an out zoning analysis and essentially see what we could build. And I would design an exceptional project on it. And I would share that with developers or agents around town and say, Hey, guys, we should move forward with this. And so I basically did all the speculative work for free at the beginning, in order to earn their trust. And then I really got excited about the development side. So that’s how that sort of led into it because I didn’t really have much choice.