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Barry JessurunBarry Jessurun is the President and CEO of Green Valley Hospitality, a group of restaurants with multiple locations in Connecticut. As a veteran of the hospitality industry, Barry values creativity and progress which drove him to author The Drunkard’s Path, a self-help book and guide for entrepreneurs from any industry.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Barry Jessurun’s formula for maintaining a successful and healthy business mindset
  • Best practices when starting out in the hospitality industry and business advice from The Drunkard’s Path
  • Barry discusses the key elements of fast casual restaurants
  • How storytelling can affect business longevity
  • Overcoming the challenges the pandemic has created for restaurants

In this episode…

In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen is joined by Barry Jessurun, President and CEO of Green Valley Hospitality. They discuss how to handle professional burnout, adopting a healthy mindset to ensure business longevity, and the key elements of fast casual restaurants that attract customers. Barry also breaks down the most common obstacles for entrepreneurs of all ages and gives advice on starting a business in the hospitality industry.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by Rise 25 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 restaurant tours, 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 SpotOn Restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spot This episode is brought to you by Rise 25. 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 or email us at Barry Jessurun is President and CEO of Green Valley Hospitality, a group of restaurants in northeastern Connecticut. He is author of the book The Drunkard’s Path, a self help and Career Guide for people across all industries. The book explores the fundamentals of work and life. His unofficial title and role is Chief storyteller. Hey, Barry, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Barry Jessurun  1:28

Hey, great. I’m well, how are you

Chad Franzen  1:30

Good. Thank you. Hey, before we get into Green Valley Hospitality, tell me about your book, and what are some of the valuable lessons that are things that people will take away from it

Barry Jessurun  1:38  

The book is broken up into four sections. It’s kind of like a whole life plan. The first section is on employment, and it’s about how to be the employee everybody wants to work. It’s based in business simple practices that you just do and embody. And over time you get good at and it’s, you know, you’re the person everybody wants to work with, oh, great, Chad’s here, and it’s gonna be a great day. It’s about how to be that person. The next section is management. And it’s about how to create a space that attracts and keeps some guides that that particular employee, and how to how to work with language and all that around it, to create a positive space for it. The next section is engagement, where we take those two together, and we create a positive offer, not just for work, but also our lives, right. And the last section is commitment where we take, you know, we’ve learned to be that great employee to be that great manager to actually bring it into our lives and be that great spouse, that great community player, because the promises we make in one domain really should follow through and all the others. So there’s work life balance is kind of like, you know, silly, because what we do in one domain, we should be doing an all the others. So those are the those are the fundamental sections of the parameters. There’s three underlying themes. The first, and I worked with a lot of people in 17-22 age group, and the story I tell them, or help them tell themselves really is who they work for, is themselves and the future value they are creating. Right, they don’t work for me, their story has to be something greater than that. Otherwise, it’s not gonna work, right. So after that, the next underlying theme is that as human beings we live and create in language. So the more effective we are in using our language and knowing how to use our words to create, right, the more effective we’re going to be at creating a life that we want. And the better you get at using your language, the better you get at creating your life, right? This is not new, it’s just spoken a different way. And the last section, the last, the last underlying theme is what I call selfish altruism. It’s kind of how I live my life, I came across the term in a book by Richard Dawkins, in the 1990s. And I’m like, wow, that’s, that’s, that’s what I do. But here’s was on like a cellular and gene level book called The Selfish Gene. And it’s selfish altruism, like what I do, I do, because I want it. And then all these other people are gonna benefit because of what I’m doing. Right. So those are the three underlying themes that go throughout the whole book. And it’s really about you creating the life that you want you being the lead character, in your own story. And that’s, that’s what the book is about.

Chad Franzen  4:15  

What made you decide to write the book and when did you kind of realize that you had these kinds of insights that you wanted to share?

Barry Jessurun  4:21  

I’ve been writing for years, basically, to help me be a better communicator. So I would research something I would write about it, I shared with my managers, my partners, in some cases, the employees so that I could come from a place of knowledge, a place of embodied knowledge and understanding. So like, I knew what I was talking about. And I’ve been doing that for years. And somewhere somewhere along the line, someone handed me a book, they said, Oh, you’re gonna like this book. And it was called Who Moved My Cheese? Have you heard of it? Oh, yeah. Yeah. So it’s a it’s a book. It’s about one thing you know about taking responsibility for yourself. It’s basically a three page Jesse and 100 page book. And like, really, that’s the best Sell it. I mean, I could write something I have. But you know, life gets in the way open to my restaurants. And I finally got around to writing it because I’ve been speaking at universities. And I came away from one of those, after the conversation, the back and forth with the students. And I was like, you know, what, I know who my audience is, I know what the story is, I need to tell. And I sat down, and I wrote the outline, pretty much in about 15 minutes. And then it took me about four more months to write the book, I had about 35 to 40% of it written already, it was just put getting the outline done. And then every Thursday, put my writers cap on, right?

Chad Franzen  5:40  

Are there some specific parts of your work and or life experience that are kind of driving factors behind some of the content?

Barry Jessurun  5:48  

Yeah, that’s 40 years of doing this, you know, but I have taken a class in California, it’s an online class, but we also met in person four times a year. And in that class, it was a business class that was based in biology. And we learned the fundamentals of being human and how we work with that to create offers in the marketplace. And I worked with, with top people in many industries from around the United States and different parts of the world. And it was working in thinking with those people really had me see the world a whole different way. And I could look back and what I had done with that new lens, and go, Wow, that’s, that’s what I did. And this is, these are the words around it. So this is how I can actually be more effective and creative. So, you know, that was sort of key. But I’ve been a certain kind of worker, everybody, you know, through my 20s said to me, how Barry, you should own your own business, you know, you got the right mindset, you’re doing the work? And, you know, that’s that’s kind of it. But the catalyst was the plants to help me with my,

Chad Franzen  6:56  

who do you think would most benefit from reading it?

Barry Jessurun  6:59  

Well, everybody, you know, because there’s a there’s, there’s little bits, for everybody, you know, the first section of the book, anybody you know, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 in the job market is going to be great for them. Anybody who is a young manager and working with that age group, it’s going to be a benefit. Anybody who’s a business owner, 40s 50s, and has to work with all those people, there’s a benefit, right? Someone who who’s moving through their life and wants to do something different. There’s a fundamental understanding of how we create, right, it’s going to help you. So it really, my editors, and my pre readers, many of them said, it’s really two books, one, you know, they could have been broken out. But it’s, I’ve had people from, you know, teenagers to people in their 70s offer me, you know, great feedback on it. People in their 70s saying they wish they had a book like that when they were younger, and younger people going in this one section, like I’m gonna work on that. So, you know, it’s one of those books you can open to read a chapter. Sure. Have you heard of the book The Four Agreements? I believe so yeah. Right. So you know, that’s a book with four things. And four practices, let’s put it right. And actually, if you do all four, if if you get good at them, Your life does get better, but their practices, and they’re hard. Like one of them is don’t take things personally, actually great skill behalf, takes you 20 years to get good at it. And there’s only four things in that book. And a lot of people read it go Wow, great, great book, you know, and I go, Well, what are they? And almost nobody can name all four. Because their practices you need to put in your life. The problem. The problem with my book is that it’s got about 40 practices that I’ve been working on for 40 years. And the idea is find one, depending on what age you are, where you are in your life.

Chad Franzen  8:47  

Sure, sure. Right, how can people find out more information about your book or purchase the book?

Barry Jessurun  8:57  

You can purchase it anywhere online books are sold, it is sold through Amazon. But if you search The Drunkard’s Path, it will pop up at Target Walmart, whatever, wherever you like to buy books, it’s there. It’s also on Audible. And it’s also available on Kindle.

Chad Franzen  9:10  

Okay, great. Hey, yeah, Green Valley Hospitality is a group of four restaurants. But it’ll have been Cafe Dog Lane cafe at five main and Fenton River Grill and you’re the founder and designer of all four locations. You founded the Vanilla Bean cafe in 1989. What had you What had you been doing up to that point and what led you to start it?

Barry Jessurun  9:32  

I’ve been working in hospitality industry to varying degrees of, you know, from from health clubs to scariest to water parks to you know, just fun stuff. I mean, once somebody somebody wants to be said, Barry, how come you always have the jobs the guys in the beer commercial? You know, mainly because I went out and looked for fun things to do and to learn from people around me. Whatever I could with those fun things doing that I went outside of that. took on some other things like I got my single engine land pilot’s license, because it was a fun thing to do. You know, I learned how to cook, because it’s fun thing to do. So I always been working with people with young people and in the hospitality industry, and kind of thought I’d like to stay in it. And then at some point, my family said, Hey, we’re gonna turn the barn, into a cafe come home and help. Well, there’s a good place to help out and learn some more. My plan wasn’t to stay here. My plan was to help out and go somewhere else. But I ended up staying. And here we are. 33 years later, after opening a cafe, we turned it over 19 cents century barn into a European American Cafe, which we when we opened it, it was limited service. Now it’s now the segment in the marketplace is called fast casual.

Chad Franzen  10:47  

Sure. So what can a customer expect when he or she goes there?

Barry Jessurun  10:52  

warm, inviting, sort of like walking into someone’s home. High quality and prepared for employees that look you in the eye and talk to you in a friendly and engaging you know, the kind of place when you’re traveling, you want to stumble into, you know, you don’t want to do the chain thing. It’s the kind of place you want to find where you are traveling.

Chad Franzen  11:13  

Where did the idea come from?

Barry Jessurun  11:16  

I guess the idea came from the fact that it’s missing, right in the marketplace, pretty much and I found out it’s actually missing all over, all over the place. It’s it’s, it’s a mid market is what I call it, but it’s high quality and prepared food. And it’s like in California, they’re really started doing chef driven, fast casual restaurants. That’s kind of what what’s become. So when you’re going out and you want something either quick, or you want to take your time, whatever it is from a cafe standpoint, but you don’t want to be waiting. Right, you want to you want to be there on your time, your way. So you get to come in you order to gather you pay. And then when your food’s ready to bring it to you. It’s based on English style. So when you want to give somebody you’re in a pub, you walk up to the bar, you order your food to pay them. And then when the food’s ready, it comes out when you want to leave. Because one of the big problems in dining in America is when you want to leave, it’s really hard. Just the industry has not gotten really good at getting people out with the exception of those restaurants on Friday and Saturday nights that need to turn tables like mad. And then you just feel rushed. So but if you want to be somewhere we’re not doing that, but you still need to get somewhere it is so hard to leave. So we wanted to create that kind of environment, but still have a higher quality. counter service restaurants.

Chad Franzen  12:40  

What were the early days there like at the Philippine cafe?

Barry Jessurun  12:44