We had the good fortune of connecting with Frank Rodgers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Frank, what do you want people to remember about you?
I’ve always naturally been a networker and a promoter, although I didn’t think of it in those terms exactly. I enjoy meeting interesting people and then connecting them with my friends and colleagues, building a network of shared interests. I enjoy being a bridge between hardworking, honest people and seeing them succeed. I want my business to be a legacy of introducing and connecting those people.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Drinking Buddy was founded on a desire to give back to a country that I’ve received so much from. I started taking Japanese on a whim in high school. My teacher made learning such a difficult language so engaging and fun that I kept it up in college, with the goal of studying abroad. I ended up studying for two semesters in Kobe while living in Osaka with a host family. My host mother blew me away with her hospitality and care – not just for myself, but for everyone in her circle of family and host students. After going home to finish college, I came back as an English teacher and spent another four years in Japan, both in Hiroshima and Osaka. I eventually met my wife there as well. Everyone I encountered was always incredibly conscientious and hospitable. I wouldn’t have learned or done half of the amazing things I did in Japan without their kindness and eagerness to share their home and culture with me. It was that spirit of hospitality that inspired me to start my own company. I wanted to share what I had been given with as many people as I could while supporting the culture that I had grown to love.
The hardest part of this has been overcoming my own insecurity. It took a few years of thinking about founding a business before I finally got tired of it and took the first step. What got me over the edge was realizing that there are millions of small business owners running all kinds of businesses. I didn’t need to found the next enormous tech company or e-commerce success story. I just needed to try making my own business.
I was amazed to learn that there were so many resources out there, and people that wanted to share their knowledge and experience with me. Just like my experiences in Japan, I found there to be so many wonderful people in the entrepreneur community. I was never alone; there’s always someone just an email or phone call away from helping me out.
That’s what I want Drinking Buddy to be about. Sharing Japanese hospitality through fun, unique bar snacks and accessories with our customers, while creating mutually beneficial, positive relationships with fellow businesses and entrepreneurs in the American food & beverage space.
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.
If they’re coming down to Long Beach, here’s the places I’d take them – Eat: Donuts and Vietnamese coffee from Knead Donuts on 7th St, pastries from Pietris Bakery on 2nd. Definitely a dinner at Open Sesame on 2nd as well, and another at Sura Korean BBQ on Atlantic. Also would hit up Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken on Long Beach Blvd.
Drink: Pub crawl to all the local craft breweries – Ten Mile, Ambitious Ales, Long Beach Beer Lab, Belmont Brewing Company, Trademark Brewing, Beachwood BBQ… so many great places.
Visit: Bicycle ride from Lions Lighthouse to Belmont Shore. Check out Long Beach Museum of Art and have lunch at the cafe. Do a harbor cruise or rent a boat in Naples.
Hang Out: Relax at Bluff Park or Bixby Park. Grab a bite and beer at Steel Craft, The Hangar, and Belmont Brewing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
All images are my own