HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College
With one-out-of-10 new restaurants going out of business in its first year, Jones County Junior College's Honors Institute students learned how Jackson restaurateur Jeff Good defied the odds. As the guest speaker for the Innovation and Competition Speakers Series, Good explained he has a compulsion about work, which also explains how he and his partner could open three upscale restaurants in two decades.
"There's a motivation within me, which drives me. I'm wired to work and there's something inside me that drives me to solve the next problem," said the Salt Lake City native and current Jackson, Mississippi resident.
He started working when he was 13-years old and about the only thing slowing him down a little, would be his twin girls and wife. Doing everything from sweeping floors to cleaning toilets, Good said he didn't have any career plans.
"We moved here because my dad was the Dean of Students at Millsaps College. It was also my dad who had to kick me out of college. I had a rocky first semester, but I buckled down and earned a 4.0 GPA by that summer. I was also one point away from being a cum laude graduate. However, that initial failure opened the door for me to the restaurant world because I waited tables," said Good.
Upon graduating from college with a business administration degree, he had two offers: IBM and National Cash Register Company. Good opted for the lesser known company and proceeded to sell computers to manufacturing and distribution industries, the hard way.
"I went door to door selling computers. There was a tremendous amount of rejection…selling computers in the 1980s, and then NCR was bought by AT&T and they closed my division." However Good pointed out to students, "Everything you're doing is training you for whatever is next."
While trying to find another job, Good called his best friend from high school, Dan Blumenthal, a chef in San Francisco about his situation. He learned they were both unhappy in their jobs and decided to go into business together. Today, they own and operate three unique and successful restaurants in Jackson: an upscale fine Italian restaurant, Bravo!, Broad Street Bakery and Sal & Mookies, a New York pizza and ice cream shop. However, success didn't come easily, Good shared with JCJC students.
"My banker friend tried to talk me out of opening a restaurant," recalled Good. "He advised me to stay in a safe pool where I can swim."
After being turned down for a half million dollar loan, Good decided there had to be another way and he pursued possible investors. Good thought of a couple of possibilities from his experience as a volunteer for many organizations and the past VP of the Board of Directors for Ballet Mississippi.
"That was the hardest work of my life. I talked to lawyers, accountants and asked content experts to learn the best possible way to set up a legal partnership….We developed a 250-page business plan and I was an expert at selling the idea," Good shared.
The only problem, investors weren't willing to invest a lot of money. After refining the business plan, he found some property and talked to 750-people, and served 250-people dinner in his house, as he pitched his restaurant idea. Once Bravo! opened, he spent 16-hours a day, eventually calling it his "mistress."
"What was the benefit of that hard work today? We are successful today. We paid investors but they kept 55 cents of every dollar because they believed in us….With our five years of experience, investors trusted us and we developed a 325-page business plan for the second restaurant," Good said.
Blumenthal's brother Dan was part of the original restaurant management group for several years. They had just opened the second restaurant when Dave decided to quit. However Good said he was prepared for any of the partners departure.
"We had an agreement between the three of us, whether one of us wanted to quit, died, or were fired. Our business 'pre-nuptial' allowed us to plan financially, thus protecting the future of the business."
Another part of their success was due in part to Good's belief to be sensitive to employees and the community's needs. Their restaurants have been awarded numerous honors and individually, they have been recognized for their talents. Blumenthal's chef skills have landed him on TV and in magazines. Serving through numerous organizations, Good has been recognized for his work on several community projects and he has helped the business community and the city of Jackson in countless ways. Governor Phil Bryant recently honored him as a GIVE recipient for his outstanding community support by a business owner. After hearing about the "good" Jeff Good has done in Jackson and his success as a managing partner and entrepreneur, JCJC student, Teresa Keen, was intrigued.
"The hours don't scare me," Keen boldly told Good. The Petal resident works at two restaurants while going to college. She said, "I've persevered this far!"