We had the good fortune of connecting with Antonio Cortez Appling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Antonio Cortez, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I heard about an opportunity to take over a restaurant that was moving to a bigger location and that the previous owner was not taking anything with him. This seemed like a fantastic en road for someone that had no experience in restaurant ownership. Also, the place was pretty popular so I know people would recognize the location and associate it with good things. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up and just scary enough to make sense.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own a restaurant collective called The Nest Group. All of our concepts seek to find ways to create space, promote community, culture and take care of people. Our newest concept The Nest: También is a love letter to the folks that have rocked with us for the last 7-8 years. We looked at the pain points of our original location and designed a space that would solve them. We listened to the struggles that our guests had whether it be limited parking, not having beer and wine, not having space for large parties, not having a patio and we created this concept that has ALL those things and more. We are excited to open this space within the next month. I think what sets us apart from others is that we are not that set apart from others. We believe in, “community over competition” which means we look to our neighbors to see what they are doing and we differentiate ourselves in order to offer something in addition to what they do, but not necessarily at their expense. We have great relationships with The Breakfast Bar, Horchateria, Fronks, The V Room, The Hawk, Beechwood Brewing, Steelcraft, Bellflower Diner, Taco Nazo, LB Beer Lab, LB Creamery and beyond. We look at these as alliances for the bigger, common good. So if anything sets us apart its that we are vehement about partnering and supporting our neighbors and other local establishments. I am proud and excited that we have been able to keep hip-hop and street culture as not just an aesthetic but a tangible mainstay in our company. At our new location we have sneaker easter eggs. All throughout the space there are sneakers hidden. It’s a fun version of a scavenger hunt. I’m excited that Jon Sladkey installed over forty speakers in our six diffrent regions which means that in one room we can play Selena for a party of 15 at our community table and in another room we can play 36 Chambers by Wu-Tang and out on the patio which is supposed to be more of a day club, brunch vibe we can play J Balvin, Rosalia, Travis Scott or Megan Thee Stallion. In our main room you might hear the new J. Cole and in the hallway waiting for the bathroom you might hear Tanehisi Coates audiobook of Between The World and Me. I’m proud of how we have stayed counter cultural and a bit punk rock in our approach towards something as conservative as breakfast. In my last voyagela interview I talked alot about how I got to where I am business wise personally. Professionally owning a business is hard. I have been blessed with a great network of individuals. I was in a business program called 10KSB from Goldman Sachs that has been a tremendous resource and gave me a cohort of 30 other business owners from all walks of life. I also have great mentors whether it is Gabe from Beechwood, or my uncle Thomas. I also have astounding colleagues in which iron sharpens iron from Josh at Breakfast Bar to Geoffrey at Patria, or Jonathan at Golden State Coffee or Romeo at Romeo’s Chocolates or Kara at Citron Designs I have great people in the industry that I talk to frequently about business. My wife is hella supportive and hella efficient so I tend to believe as a team we can handle anything that the business throws at us. Along the way I have learned that the hardest part to business is usually not the product or even the consumer it is always the people (the staff) so if you want to be successful you have to learn people and care about people more than you do about making money. You have to work for something bigger than self otherwise the legacy and your particular revolution will die with you. I’m excited to bring The Nest: También to the public and hopefully more interesting concpts in the future. I just want people to know that these spaces are for them. Please utilize our company as a gathering space, a resource, an ally and a place to be fed and heal.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Okay I have to break this down to respective areas of Los Angeles:
Los Angeles (proper) – Majordomo Dave Chang’s spot, Kogi truck, Bestia, Sugarfish, The Varnish Room, and RifLa for sneaker shopping.
Long Beach – Tacos El Sauz (walk up window), Breakfast Bar 4th Street, The V-Room, Beechwood BBQ (get the ribs), The Hawk Bar, Steelhead Coffee, LB Creamery, LB Exchange, Philz Coffee, The Pie Bar, Romeo’s Chocolates, Bamboo Club. Too many places to name. Get an Airbnb for a weekend and just eat around Long Beach. Call me. I’ll take you around.
Bellflower – Taco Nazo, Horchateria, Blvd Cocktails, Fronks (ask for Tony or Alfredo), Bellflower DIner (ask for a corned beef hash burrito with over medium eggs inside. Not on the menu), Steelcraft, and Takos Mexican Spot.
I don’t really do site seeing. I like museums and LA and LB have some great one’s from the MOMA to Molaa I usually focus on food first when I travel. I love Sunset Beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a Shoutout to God. That sounds weird, but honestly there is a reason most people thank God first at award shows. Got to give praise to the Creator. The Most High. Without God I would probably be dead. All the dopeness you see in me is just a reflection of His work. I'[m blessed he keeps using me to do such interesting things but I know He wants to use all of us to do amazing things in our respective spheres of influence. In Jesus name, let it be.
Other than that I want to thank my wife Heather who quit her job during Covid to come work for the company.
I want to thank my family. My three sisters Marilyn, Anna and Hanan and my brother in laws. Any win we have we share as a family and an example to our wonderful nieces and nephews.
I definitely want to thank my Assistant Lindsey Mccombs who is a life giving extension of me.
The Brock Family for all their support and of course Noni my mother in law and friend.
All the staff past and present at our locations for The Nest: A Breakfast Joint, The Nest: Steelcraft (now shuttered) and The Nest: También.
All the The Definitive Soapbox Staff past and present.
The city of Bellflower for their on going support especially Elizabeth O’ Neil.
The city of Long Beach for giving me a new home.
The Well Church, especially Pastor Charlie Garrison who I’ve been through the fire with and his amazing wife Bridget who can do no wrong.
I want to send a shoutout to City Heights, San Diego, the hood that raised me and Ronald Harvey my oldest friend from the block. #tnb
My uncle Thomas Appling who raised me like I was his own and still mentors and guides me.
I want to thank Danny Meyer for writing, “Setting The Table.”
This sucks, because of course I’m going to forget someone or some group of people.
Instagram: @eatattambien, @eatatthenest, @thedefinitivesoapbox,
humblebeastro, heather appling, the creative abe,