Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Chef Mansour Gorji from Gorji Restaurant in Dallas, Texas. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Chef, appreciate you joining us today. How did you scale up? What were the strategies, tactics, meaningful moments, twists/turns, obstacles, mistakes along the way? The world needs to hear more realistic, actionable stories about this critical part of the business building journey. Tell us your scaling up story – bring us along so we can understand what it was like making the decisions you had, implementing the strategies/tactics etc.
By concentrating on quality over quantity, scaling up could be achieved with actually downsizing! It all depends on what one expects in life, more money or achieving meaningful goals.
Over the years, we took risks and controversial stands to further our strategy by staying true to our vision of cooking and hospitality, not trying to be all things to everyone! We purposefully decided to go smaller, reduce tables, eliminate the patio, not accommodate children and do away with tipping and pay a livable wage in pursuit of those goals.
Solving problems on your feet becomes a necessity. Plus, deciding to stay independent by not taking financial partners and paying off our debts as fast as possible also helped.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Growing up around food whose sole purpose was not just sustenance but freshness, balance and deliciousness, cooking and shopping daily was ultimately a prominent part of everyday activity for the family.
At 17, I left Iran and went to Edinburgh, Scotland, to study engineering, during which time I got to know another culture’s approach to food which had its pros and cons. After working in that field for ten years and traveling to more countries, I was exposed to different cultures’ understanding and vision of food; I decided to leave engineering and follow what I had learned growing up.
When I came to Texas (just short of 35 years ago), I had to learn the front of the house, so I worked in a few fine dining and other style restaurants to understand the dynamics of each. After a couple of attempts, failure, and success, I took over a fast food restaurant and, every year since have been evolving it into the fine dining stature of today. We are celebrating its 19th anniversary this year.
Along the way, we introduced our concept, New Mediterranean Cuisine, cooking from all around the Mediterranean Sea basin. And luckily, we have won back-to-back Texas Steak Cook-Off Championships and have been allocated Dallas’ Best Steakhouse despite not fitting the facade of a typical steak house. On the evolutionary path of Gorji restaurant, we decided to eliminate tipping and pay sustainable living wages, not to accommodate children (with sadness but realism of what fine dining should be), no TVs and reduce tables to 5 with one seating only.
In the meantime, we had started to bottle Gorji Gourmet, a line of sauces that customers would ask to take home and were saying, “Tastes Just Picked.” Later, we self-published Zing By Gorji, a cookbook that has won five awards, including an international one.
Any fun sales or marketing stories?
DHome magazine named me chef of the month in 2006. In collaboration with Whole Foods, we did a cooking demonstration at the Richardson, Tx store of our cioppino recipe, which had been recognized by the magazine.
At the demonstration, I had jars of my three sauces displayed. Attendees wanted to take them home, but they were not available for purchase in their stores at that time. The grocery Team Leader liked them and got them into Whole Foods later that year. Fortunately, they have now won 38 awards in blind judging and are available in many DFW Whole Foods Market.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
Consistency in finding the best and freshest ingredients possible. By doing the shopping myself and not relying on distributors, I can control the quality.
After all, no matter how good one can cook, the outcome will not be as good without those ingredients in their peak form. This way, word of mouth will do the growing for you.
- Website: https://www.gorjirestaurant.com
- Instagram: @chef_gorji
Thomas Garza Kay Oaks Sherry Gritch