Josh Molina is the CEO of Makers & Finders, a specialty coffee brand and Latin café with locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. Josh is a first-generation Colombian-American entrepreneur who opened his first brunch restaurant at age 25. A graduate of University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he toured the coffee countries of South America in 2013.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Josh Molina talks about the food, drinks, and vibes that a customer can expect from Makers & Finders
- How Josh came to appreciate Colombian food while growing up in Las Vegas
- When did Josh begin to envision what Makers & Finders would look like?
- What types of marketing did Makers & Finders do when it launched?
- How the menu was developed and customer appreciation of Latin American food evolved
- What did Josh learn about the role of the founder when launching and growing his restaurant brand?
- Josh discusses adding Makers & Founders locations and his goals for the future
In this episode…
Talk to anyone who successfully launched their first business and they’ll tell you they figured it out as they went. For Josh Molina, who founded Makers & Finders at age 25, not only was he learning how to make his restaurant brand bigger and better, but he says it took about nine years to realize what he should be doing day-to-day. Through experience, Josh learned the value of empowering a team and giving its members space to grow and thrive, as well as how to manage his own tasks and allow himself adequate time to be a father.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Makers & Finders CEO Josh Molina joins Rise25’s Chad Franzen for a candid conversation about all things related to launching and growing a restaurant brand. Josh shares how he came up with his vision for the brand, launched his first location, developed and evolved the menu, and grew from one to four locations. He talks about the ups and downs he experienced as an entrepreneur and how he has grown as a manager and leader.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Josh Molina on LinkedIn
- Makers & Finders
- Makers & Finders on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok
- Van Wyck Brooks
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode
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Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 Media. We featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world
Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here co host for the show where we feature top restauranteurs, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant, where they combined marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve sorted everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom and pop shops. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships 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 podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to rise25.com or email us at email@example.com Josh Molina is a first generation Colombian American entrepreneur based in Las Vegas, he opened his first brunch restaurant, Makers & Finders at the ripe age of 25. And now with five locations and counting, the burgeoning entrepreneur is ready to take his company to the next level. Josh, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Josh Molina 1:25
I’m great. And I’m happy to be here to chat. I appreciate you getting on with me this morning. And I look forward to talking about my story. Yeah, it’s
Chad Franzen 1:32
great to talk to you. Hey, so as we start off here, tell me about makers and finders. And maybe what a what a customer might expect when going there.
Josh Molina 1:40
Yeah, Makers & Finders is a full service coffee shop café. We serve brunch where breakfast and brunch restaurant, right? Our brunch menu is a Latin comfort food based brunch menu. So that was a big inspiration for me being a first generation Colombian American I, I wanted to bring these dishes into a mainstream, easy to navigate menu. And so that’s that’s the theory behind the food menu. And then we have a craft coffee program, all of our syrups for our lattes are made in house. And then we also serve a full bar. So we have bottomless mimosa, Mimosa blinds, the works. That’s makers and finders in a nutshell, the space is brightly lit, very eclectic. Lots of color. It’s made for, you know, creation really like we want people to come in there have some I have great memories, close business deals, co work network. And so we really build that space for that vibe. So it really feels the energy at any Makers & Finders location really feels like a bustling kind of entrepreneurial spirit. And it really is implied in the name as well, makers and finders. It’s it’s about you know, the entrepreneur, the spirit, taking an idea and turning it into reality.
Chad Franzen 2:57
Awesome. So tell me a little bit about what life was like for you growing up. You said you’re a first generation Colombian American. You’re from the US and then your parents are from Colombia.
Josh Molina 3:08
Yeah, so both my parents are from Colombia, my dad’s from and they Jean, my mom’s from Cali. They immigrated in the early 80s, to New York City. So I was I was born in New York City, I was there for first 10 years of my life. And, you know, they were, you know, I really embraced the mentality for my parents, because they really paved the way for me to be in a position that I’m in. And so they, they packed up all of our stuff, everything that we own, got on a truck, and we drove cross country, to Las Vegas just for some more opportunities. At the time, we had, you know, some family that had made the trek over here. And we just felt like, my parents felt that Las Vegas just had a lot more opportunity for us to really thrive. And so they made that move, and it was probably the best decision they could have made. And I’m so thankful for that.
Chad Franzen 4:03
Was there anything? I mean, was there anything like as part of your childhood or as part of just growing up even as a young adult that made you particularly appreciate, you know, Colombian food? I know, I know, it’s part of your family heritage, but you’re not from Colombia yourself. So what about growing up made you appreciate that so much,
Josh Molina 4:20
you know, it’s a me, I really, you know, Sunday mornings were very special for me, because, you know, throughout the whole week, obviously, you know, my parents both work full time jobs. I have two siblings. So there were three of us going to school. So a very fast pace. And so Sunday mornings were the day that we all got to sit at the table, you know, and, and enjoy that quality time as a family. And in the, on the table. Were all of these dishes, these, these, these, these Colombian, these Colombian recipes that have been passed on from generations to and I really, you know, it’s theirs A lot of nostalgia involved with these dishes, because it really takes me back to that, to that Sunday morning breakfast with with my family. And so that really became an anchor of inspiration for me to create a menu that that represented that. But it’s easy to it’s something that is can appeal to a wide base of people. So yeah.
Chad Franzen 5:23
So you started Makers & Finders at 25?
Josh Molina 5:28
Yeah, the idea actually started when I was 22. That’s when I really started envisioning and really what it was, do, in fact, because in New York City, you know, actually, the highest concentration of Colombian Americans are in New York City, specifically, where I’m from Queens. So we’re pretty much a majority over there. And so there’s Colombian bakeries, Colombian restaurants, you know, depending on the neighborhood on every street corner. So moving to Las Vegas, which we don’t know, there, there wasn’t a lot of Elumynt Americans live in years, mostly like Central Mexico, Central South Central America, I just, you know, I realized that, hey, you know, there’s an opportunity here. And I want to do it in a version, that’s my version, you know, this, this culture kind of mix of Colombian and American in the trendy very modern way. So that was also a really big, just seeing the landscape of Las Vegas, I really saw a big opportunity. And I started working on that opportunity at the age of 22.
Chad Franzen 6:28
So and he just wanted to what, what were you doing, like, how did you get kind of a vision for what you wanted makers and funders to be?
Josh Molina 6:35
So leading up to that I was in pretty much just sales. So I did insurance sales for for a while, and you know, I was really good at it natural salesman, I was really doing well for myself at an early age, commission checks, I was putting that saving it saving it, I just my gut always. My God always told me that there was something good, that’s gonna, I’m gonna need to save this for a reason. Like, you’re saving for a reason. I didn’t know that reason. And, you know, when I turned 22, you know, I spent two to three hours of my eight hour shift, you know, making the sales I need to make and meeting the quota. So I had five, six hours of essentially free time, and I didn’t particularly enjoy being behind a desk. I didn’t like the nine to five structure felt very bad. Bound. Right. And so in that, in, you know, in that misery, to be honest, I really just started looking within I’m like, Well, what, how do I get out of this? Right? How do I, you know, make that leap? And that really was the trigger for, you know, digging into my imagination, and starting to conceptualize makers and finders.
Chad Franzen 7:51
And then you mentioned what the name represents? How did you kind of come up with that name? Did you had a, you had a vision, like this was going to be a place where people came up with ideas? Or, or was that something that you thought of right away?
Josh Molina 8:03
So, you know, just kind of going back to what I just said, you know, I really started looking at within, right, like, I really started embracing my roots, memories, nostalgia, I mean, the Stallion was just so it’s such a powerful emotion, right? And so I, I just kept thinking about my childhood, the moments that I treasure for a lifetime. And those were inspirational kind of moments or points that that I pulled from. So really, the way I, how makers and finders came about was, I had, you know, before makers, planners, there was five different iterations of the name and the concept. And I just wasn’t happy. I had already started building out a space, there were about three months, but we’re opening and I just felt that I didn’t have the right name for it yet. At the time, I had read a very powerful book by Edward Glaeser called triumph for the city. And you know, being from the city, New York City, I saw Las Vegas and I and I thought to myself, that I really think that Las Vegas is going to become a metropolis one day, and I really wanted to embrace that urban kind of that urban spirit, you know, that the spirit of the city and the machine behind it. And so, that was that was kind of floating in my mind. And the name I was going to go with was bandwidth coffee. And then wake is is is an expressway of a freeway in New York City. I always remember you know, traveling that that expressway as a child, my dad used to work in in the city in Manhattan as a doorman and he you know, we used to pick them up midnight. And, you know, my mom, she’s you wouldn’t leave us at home for our for our own safety right And so she’s taking me and I just remember laying in the back seat at midnight, on a Monday, Tuesday, whatever, you know, week school day it was and just like seeing the bridge pass, and that I really like live that moment lives in my mind. And so I’m like, Well, you know, the Van Wyck expressway was a big inspiration for me, I’m gonna name it that, but I wasn’t happy with that name. So, but and, but I was going to commit to it. Before I committed to it, I’m like, Well, I probably should know a little bit about this bandwidth guy is, and, you know, in that, in that investigation, I found not the Van Wyck that it was named after but another Van Wyck his name was Van Wyck Brooks. And he was a you know, mid century economist, Idealist very, you know, postwar, like, Larry, you know, driven by that American dream, that American spirit and it just spoke to me and when I when I read it, and and I just became super inspired. And I said, this has to be the New England. I didn’t want to give it away at the door, I wanted something nondescript with with some power to it. And after I found bandwidth Brooks in the makers and finders series, which is actually a it’s a four part series written in the mid 1950s. I just gravitated to it and said this, this was it.
Chad Franzen 11:27
Nice, awesome, great story. Hey, so you know, you’re selling insurance at 22. You’re trying to think of a way out you have this vision you have this idea. Tell me about the the first location and kind of building it from the ground up.
Josh Molina 11:42
And yeah. You know, just I was I’m glad I was, I did it at that age, because I was just very blindly just, you know, plowing forward, I didn’t really necessarily know what I was doing. I did start working in restaurants part time at the age of 21. While I was still selling insurance, trying to learn that and learn that so I can be hands on when when I open makers and vendors. And I Oh, shoot, I lost my train of thought. Sorry about that. So can you repeat the question? Sorry.
Chad Franzen 12:19
Yeah, sure. Just tell me about kind of like the the opening process of Makers & Finders. Sorry. Yeah.
Josh Molina 12:24
So we, I saw the arts. So the art the first locations located in the arts district, right at the time, 2013 2014. I, you know, I was looking at, I want it to be downtown, right. But traditionally, downtown Las Vegas was known at the time as Fremont Street in old Vegas, right? The arts district was a pocket, you know, a mile and a half down the street from downtown, where there was a lot of, you know, mechanic shops, thrift shops, art galleries, but it had kind of, you know, it’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Las Vegas, it’s actually the first reported map from 1904. The arts district was on it, right Main Street, which is where we’re located. So very historic neighborhood, but, you know, it was aged at the time. And because of the how age that was I and then I was able to find a really good deal on a lease for the space. And so I was very driven by that. But I also saw the arts district as like, the the next neighborhood of Las Vegas, and I really thought it was going to thrive one day, especially because the city was also behind it. They they had plans at the time to you know, redevelop the streets, make it into one ways, add greenery, shrubs, trees, and make it more walkable. And so I thought, you know, well, when that happens, there has to be a cafe everyone, you know, can can congregate at. And so I landed on the arts district. And, you know, I was able to raise just enough money to kind of get get get enough to make the purchases that I needed to purchase and do everything that I needed to do. I mean, we started with very humble, humble beginnings. I didn’t even have a walk in cooler. I had nine fridges that you know, was my the entire refrigeration for the restaurant. So very humble start and learned a lot made a lot of mistakes. But after a six month construction process, we were finally able to open our doors. Then it was a really it was it was an incredible experience that I learned a lot from
Chad Franzen 14:36
Yeah, I’m sure so you open your doors. What were the early days there like that, you know, kind of kind of getting going.[continue to page 2]